55-year-old father, teacher dies after fishing trip to Langston Lake

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GUTHRIE, Okla. (KFOR) – The body of a 55-year-old man whose boat capsized while he was fishing with his son has been found.

James Harding Sr. was fishing on his boat with his son, James Harding Jr., when the boat began taking on water.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol searched for hours Wednesday and again Thursday morning. They found his body early Thursday.

The 55 year old was a high school history teacher at Star Spencer High School.

When the boat sank, his 31-year-old son was able to swim to shore.

“By the grace of God I made it out,” said James Harding Jr.

Harding Jr. says they were heading back towards shore when, unexpectedly, the wind started picking up.

“He just said kind of quietly, ‘Hey, son, we’re taking on a lot of water.’ He was already like knee deep,” said Harding Jr.

Seconds later, the boat started to sink and Harding Jr. was thrown into the water.

“He kept asking me, ‘Hey, are you alright, son? Are you alright?’” said Harding Jr.

His son’s life vest was within reach, but Harding’s was not.

“I told him, ‘Yeah, dad, I got this life vest; I’ve got it up under my chin. I’m just trying to breath. I think I can make it. I’ll just wade here as long as I have to,’ and…that was the last time I talked to him,” said Harding Jr.

His son was able to make it out to shore. He found help, and an hours-long search for Harding began.

Harding’s wife, Lynne Simpson Harding, waited for hours in agony.

“We just kept thinking, ‘Okay, he’s gonna pop out of these woods,’” said Simpson Harding.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol found Harding’s body less than 100 yards from the shore.

“It just doesn’t seem real because this is what he knew how to do. I’m still numb,” said Simpson Harding.

His family says his legacy will live on. Harding was a life-long educator who touched the lives of many.

“He was just such a good person. You couldn’t meet a better person than my dad,” said Lauren Harding, Harding’s daughter.

“To me, that was Superman. I always wanted to be just like him,” said Harding Jr.

The family says they’re waiting on Harding’s body to be returned from the Medical Examiner. They say they hope to be able to plan his funeral when that happens.


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