AUSTIN, TX (KTRE) - An Angelina County Game Warden has been named as the 2018 National Association of State Boating Law Administrators Texas Boating Officer of the Year.
According to a Texas Parks and Wildlife press release, Phillip Wood was recognized by the TPW Commission at a meeting in Austin Thursday.
Wood has been a game warden for 15 years and has patrolled both Jasper and Angelina Counties.
The press release said both counties include a portion of Lake Sam Rayburn, one of the largest lakes in Texas at 116,000 surface acres, 230 miles of the Neches River and 20 miles of the Angelina River. His time as a game warden in two different counties on Lake Sam Rayburn has given him the ability to locate lost boaters with minimal information.
The release said that Wood has also been instrumental in responding to nearly every land-falling hurricane disaster that has impacted the Texas coast in the past 15 years. He has rescued numerous people during Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Rita, Ike and Harvey.
In April 2016, Wood and a civilian rider were patrolling the Neches River when he received a call from Houston County Game Warden Zak Benge saying he had been in a boat accident and was ejected from his boat to the Neches River. He had been hurt badly and could not move his leg. Benge gave an estimate to his location and Wood was about 15 river miles away.
When he arrived, Wood found the boat next to the bank and spotted warden Benge in the river hanging on to a bush. Wood and his civilian partner reached Benge and were able to get him out of the water and onto the bank and began to apply dry clothing items to help him retain body heat and prevent hypothermia.
These actions coupled with the action of others that arrived later resulted in the successful extraction of Benge from the remote Neches River bottom via helicopter. Warden Benge made a full recovery and was able to return to work one year later.