Indiana Central News
Terre Haute, Indiana
Terre Haute, Indiana
UPDATE: Body of boating accident victim found. See story
MEROM -- Indiana Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officers from District 5 continue to search Turtle Creek Reservoir for a missing boat accident victim identified as Josue Franco 38, of Fairbanks.
Indiana Conservation Officers launched a boat Sunday afternoon when they responded on the scene of the Sullivan County reservoir -- after the boat flipped, throwing its occupants overboard -- but they were forced to turn around due to the dangerous conditions. Their search for the remaining victim resumed early this morning, reportedly consisting of boat- based sonar searches of the bottom of the lake and shoreline.
According to Officer Max Winchell, Franco had gone fishing with Charles Herrin, 72 of Fairbanks, Mathew Cornelison, 44, and his son Gabriel Cornelison, 12, both of Plainfield, when the boat capsized around 2 p.m. yesterday.
Officials credit two Terre Haute men with saving three of the four victims from the rough waters on a Sunday with high winds, before emergency crews arrived. In fact, the wind speeds that afternoon reached over 30 mph causing extreme wave action on the shallow lake that afternoon, Winchell explained today.
"Witnesses Mike Daley and Ernie Blankenship, both of Terre Haute, were fishing on the lake when they noticed the winds had increased severely and began to motor back to the boat ramp when they observed a capsized boat with three people clinging to the top of the boat," Winchell said, adding, "Daley and Blankenship took on water into their boat while rescuing Mr. Herrin and the two Cornelison’s. They did not see Mr. Franco in the water at that time."
All three suffered from a severe state of hypothermia. Winchell said that the situation could have been fatal for them had Daley and Blankenship not risked their own lives to rescue them.
According to the report, Charles Herrin, Mathew Cornelison and Gabriel Cornelison were taken to a Sullivan County Hospital for treatment. Mathew Cornelison was later flown by Lifeline Helicopter to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis where he remains in stable condition. Charles Herrin and Gabriel Cornelison have both been released.
Indiana Conservation Officers and Sullivan County Sheriff’s Deputies continued to search the bank locating debris from the boat until late Sunday night. They also were able to retrieve the overturned boat from the water. Conditions remained extreme on the lake and the search was suspended due to rain and lightning on the water that night, Winchell said.
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News Writer: Lucy Perry