CLARKRIDGE, Ark. — An Arkansas man is crediting God for his survival after he was recently submerged in a frigid pond for three hours when his tractor slid off a muddy levee, sending it into the 12-foot-deep water.
Eldon Cooper of Clarkridge says that he decided to check out the levee on his property on Feb. 28 before attending the Wednesday night service at his church.
However, as it had been raining and the ground was soft, when he backed up his John Deere tractor a little too close to the edge, the tractor began to slide toward the pond. Cooper knew he was in trouble, and while he was thinking about what to do, the tractor slid all the way into the water.
“It was sitting there teetering. I put the bucket down because a lot of times that will stop it,” he explained to the Baxter Bulletin. “I thought about my options. I could jump out and try to swim out of the way, or I could yell out for help. But, as I thought about the options, it slipped down the hill and rolled over as it entered the water.”
When the tractor rolled, it landed with the door on the bottom of the pond, so Cooper could not get out. He was also lodged in tight with the various stick controls.
The enclosed cab where he sat began to fill with water. Cooper thought he was going to die. He tried to hold up his head to keep his mouth and nose out of the water. Thankfully, it stopped rising upon reaching his nose.
“I had an air pocket the size of a shoe box,” he told KWTX-TV.
Cooper turned to the Lord in prayer.
“I asked for God’s peace to come upon me,” he recalled. “I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I knew if I panicked, it was going to be over real quick.”
He said that God answered his prayer and he felt what the Scriptures call the “peace that passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:7).
Still unable to break out of the tractor, he left the matter in the Lord’s hands.
“I just surrendered to God. I prayed,” Cooper explained. “I said God if this is the time, then this is the time. Please watch over my family. I asked that He [would] be glorified through this and that some good would come out of it.”
After his wife returned home from church two hours later, she began looking for him. She noticed that his phone was left in the house, and the couple’s indoor dog was walking around outside. Something wasn’t right.
She began searching the property in the dark of the evening, and when she reached the pond area, she could see the flashers on the tractor blinking—even though it was mostly submerged underwater.
She frantically called 911, but in her panic, she accidentally provided a wrong number in the address. Thankfully, the dispatcher noted that the address did not match her location and was able to send help to the correct property.
Upon arrival, first responders who got to work tying a chain to the tractor thought that the mission would be the recovery of a body. They therefore sent the ambulance away.
However, Lt. Ricky Lucy soon heard something. He ordered everyone to turn off all the vehicles and to be silent so he could listen. Indeed, he could hear Cooper moaning.
Lucy excitedly alerted the others, causing Sgt. Lee Sanders, a trained diver who was on his way to the sheriff’s office to retrieve his diving gear, to realize that matters had changed from a recovery to a rescue. He then raced to the scene as fast as he could and quickly dove into the water to rescue the freezing farmer.
Cooper’s body temperature was 83 degrees by the time he received medical assistance, but he pulled through.
Rescuers realize that a number of pieces fell in place perfectly and led to Cooper’s survival, including that Cooper didn’t show up for church, which led his wife to look for him, to the dispatcher realizing that the wife had provided a wrong address, to Lucy being able to hear Cooper moaning.
“God was looking out for me. He had a message for me,” Cooper told reporters. “I’m here for a reason.”
“He definitely has my attention.”