The Bassmaster Central Open had barely begun when Monroe's Marvin Ettredge and Houma's Kevin Ricks found themselves in the water just after leaving the locks heading east from Morgan City into the Intracoastal Waterway.

"I'm banged up, but I'm OK," Open pro Ettredge said of yesterday's accident.

The incident happened as Ettredge was running his boat behind and to the right of Bassmaster Elite Series pro Edwin Evers, who also was fishing the event.

Evers was easing over to make room for an approaching barge, and saw a crosstie floating below the surface of the high, muddy water. He turned sharply, and looked back.

"I'm trying to stop somebody else from hitting it," Evers said. "Right when I turned around and looked, that's when he hit it."

Ettredge, who Ricks said was a safe distance behind Evers' boat, hit the debris at about 60 m.p.h.

"I saw (Evers' boat) turn sharply, and all I had time to do was pull my foot off the pedal," Ettredge said.

The outboard's lower unit was sheered off, and Ettredge said the boat started to slow down.

"We probably got down to about 40 m.p.h., and then I couldn't steer the boat and it took a hard right," he said.

Ricks said he only remembered looking back before hitting the water.

"I looked back and saw the engine kick up, and then I woke up in the water," he said. "I just remember coming to and realizing I was in the water. I had a (Save Phace) shield on, and it was smashed."

Ettredge also was ejected, saying he came up from his dunking "pushing the boat off of me."

Evers was one of the several boaters to put their fishing day on hold to help the soaked and confused team.

"It was never a thought," he said. "It puts things in perspective."

A crew from a nearby business also responded, sending out a crew boat to pull Ettredge's boat to the shore. One of the workers even drove Ettredge and Ricks back to the landing so the boat could be trailered.

Neither angler was seriously hurt, with the most-severe injury being a cut on Rick's forehead.

Evers said Ettredge was not responsible for the accident, which he said was unavoidable because the floating lumber could barely be seen.

"It's just a scary deal," Evers said.

Ricks said the incident emphasized the importance of life preservers, which he said worked like a charm.

"I had one of those inflatable vests, and it opened and popped me up," he said.

However, he credited the lack of serious injuries to higher power.

"God is good," Ricks said. "You go overboard and don't get killed, and then you don't get hit by any other boat."