Charlie Hartley lost his mother this week after an extended illness.
The Ohio angler left the tournament in Guntersville Thursday morning to travel home to Columbus for her wake, but was back at the lake this morning for takeoff.
"He came off the water early yesterday, weighed his fish in and Shirley Brauer (Denny's wife) and I drove him to Atlanta to catch a flight home," Charlie's wife Tracy explained. "Then our dear friends, Dan and Nancy Welsh, drove all night to get him back here in time for the takeoff."
Special arrangements were made with BASS tournament officials for Hartley to weigh his fish in early in order to make his flight.
After arriving home from the Santee Cooper event earlier in the month, Hartley went directly to see his mother, but ended up calling an ambulance for her. She was subsequently hospitalized in the intensive care unit. According to his wife, Charlie spent every night with her in the hospital before leaving Saturday night for the tournament practice at Guntersville.
Tracy Hartley noted their appreciation for their bass fishing family. Dan Welsh is a BASS tournament angler who fishes on the Tour level. He made a bed for Charlie in the back of his Suburban for the nine hour drive from Columbus to Alabama.
"We are so grateful for people like the Welshs and the Brauers and all of the BASS family who have been so supportive of us," Tracy said.
"It was his mother's dream for him to fish. She bought him his first bass boat and was his biggest supporter. She would have wanted him to fish today because she was his number one fan."