Dan Klages, a Bainbridge High School teacher and coach, was in the small fishing boat with Brownhill when the accident happened just before 1:30 p.m.
Brownhill was driving the boat and something caused him to lose control of the boat and he was thrown out, according to Ranger First Class Tony Cox of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Cox said it is not yet known whether a steering error or a mechanical problem caused the boat to change course suddenly, or if it struck something in the water.
One of Brownhill’s arms was badly cut by the boat’s propeller after he fell in the water. Klages was not thrown from the boat and managed to pull Brownhill to shore, where Klages made a tourniquet to wrap around Brownhill’s bleeding arm.
Bainbridge Public Safety Investigator Mark Esquivel and Investigator Larry Funderburke were in a patrol car on top of a Flint River bridge and responded quickly, as did Bainbridge Fire Chief Doyle Welch and other firefighters.
The group helped pull Brownhill out of the water on the river bank opposite the Boat Basin and load him onto a backboard brought to the scene by a Grady EMS ambulance. However, due to the seriousness of Brownhill’s injuries, it was decided to load the injured man onto a boat and ferry him to the Boat Basin boat landing, where other emergency responders were waiting.
Local banker Charlie Bowles was at the Boat Basin washing off his saltwater fishing boat and was recruited by Bainbridge Public Safety to ferry officers and Brownhill across the river. Another boater, Craig Pope of Colquitt, Ga., had just left the Boat Basin landings and his bass boat was used to tow Brownhill’s fishing boat back to the Boat Basin.
Brownhill was temporarily loaded into a Grady EMS ambulance for treatment; an emergency medical helicopter landed at the Boat Basin about 10-15 minutes later.
Brownhill was taken to a Tallahassee, Fla., hospital, according to officials.
Brownhill’s wife, Sonjia Brownhill, is a math teacher at the Performance Learning Center in Bainbridge. Klages also teaches at the PLC and is an assistant football coach for Bainbridge High School. Mrs. Brownhill said she had just seen the two men off at the Boat Basin not long before the accident happened.