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“God had my back”: Man shares story of night on Lake Winnebago


A Texas man is telling his story after spending the night clinging to his pontoon boat on Lake Winnebago.

The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office says David A. Daniels, 60, was located Friday morning at a home in Fond du Lac County.

Daniels’ journey started at 10 a.m. Thursday. He had been camping at Kalbus Country Harbor near Black Wolf when he embarked on a ride in a white pontoon boat with a white canopy.

At about 9 p.m., another camper called law enforcement to report Daniels, a military veteran with disabilities, never returned from his boat ride. He had been last seen near the point at Willow Harbor, south of Oshkosh.

Daniels said he intended to do some fishing on the lake. It was about two hours before sunset when he realized he had to cut his anchor free from a propeller.

“I got out, tied a bunch of ropes around the side of the boat, so I had something to hang on to, if I couldn’t get back in, and I had life jackets, too,” says Daniels. ” And I got out, cut the rope and I couldn’t get back in.”

Daniels’ local relatives said they hadn’t heard from him all day. He did not have his cell phone.

A Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office Marine unit deployed to search for Daniels. A Coast Guard helicopter performed an aerial search. The search continued overnight.

For several hours, Daniels and his boat floated on Lake Winnebago. He never saw another boat or the search party looking for him.

It was sometime between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. when Daniels hit the shoreline on the opposite side of the lake from where he started. He was in Fond du Lac County.

“I went to a house, knocked, yelled, rang the door bell. Couldn’t find anybody. Front door was open, I found a bed and I slept,” says Daniels.

At about 5:20 a.m., the homeowners came upon Daniels. They called authorities to let them know the missing boater was in their home.

The Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Daniels’ story. A medic checked him out. Daniels was tired, but otherwise in good condition. Officials returned him to the campground at Kalbus Country Harbor.

He now reflects upon his unexpected adventure.

“I know God had my back, I was good,” says Daniels.

Both friends and officials agree that Daniels’ military background and use of a life vest helped him survive.

“He’s ex-military, he thinks things through. I’m not surprised he’s alive, but certainly gratified. It could have ended worse,” says friend Adrian Marsden.

Daniels says this will be the first and last time he fishes Lake Winnebago.

“I’m just happy he’s safe, cause like Jim said, a lot of people die out there,” said Marsden.


UPDATE: The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook shortly before 6:00 a.m. that Daniels had been located and was safe.

No other details were included in the post, except for a “thank you” to everyone who supported the search.

Action 2 News has reached out to the sheriff’s office for addition information on how Daniels was found.


The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a boater who was reported missing hours after going out on Lake Winnebago.

The search started about 9:00 Thursday night after a camper at Kalbus Country Harbor near Black Wolf reported a fellow camping was missing.

According to the sheriff’s office, David A. Daniels, a 60-year-old disabled military veteran from Texas went out onto the lake at 10:00 a.m. in a white pontoon boat with a white canopy.

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ShirJia Bielefeld

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