High water leads to rescues

Four Seymour residents had to be rescued from floodwaters of the East Fork White River after two incidents during the weekend.

On Sunday evening, Gabriel Wyatt, 21, and Matthew Beem, 27, both of Seymour, told rescuers they had put a tandem kayak in the river at Rockford and were heading downstream when it overturned.

The pair were spotted sitting on a tree limb near the site of the former Bell Ford Bridge by Mark Tyler of Seymour, who was riding his motorcycle on nearby State Road 258, Jackson County Officer Jeff Walters said.

Two Seymour teens had to be rescued from floodwaters about a mile east of Sunday’s rescue, according to a police report. The rescue of Macenzy Riley, 18, and Aaron Greathouse, 17, occurred after Riley drove into floodwaters Saturday night in the 300 block of New Ford Road on the city’s west side.

Sunday’s rescue began when Tyler called dispatch about 4:45 p.m., and Walters responded along with county officer Rick Meyer. Off-duty county officer Dustin Steward also responded to the scene along with emergency personnel with Hamilton Township Volunteer Fire Department and Jackson County Emergency Medical Services.

The two men were sitting on a tree limb on the south side of the bridge and the east side of the river.

Walters said the men could not be reached by land, so he called for a boat, and Conservation Officer Phil Nale responded with an airboat.

“Once he (Nale) arrived, it didn’t take long to go out and get them,” Walters said. Steward went with Nale to retrieve the men.

He said both men complained of being cold and were treated for mild hypothermia at the scene by ambulance personnel.

Lt. Jim Schreck with the Indiana Conservation Officers said the men were in the water for about 45 minutes before they were rescued.

Beem was still wearing his life jacket, but Wyatt’s was tied to the kayak, which floated downstream after the two wound up in the water.

Schreck credited the quick boat-handling skills of Nale and the work of the other officers at the scene for saving the two men’s lives.

Around the time of Sunday’s rescue, the East Fork White River was at 15.86 feet and falling at Rockford. Flood stage is 12 feet. The river is not expected to fall below flood stage until 8 a.m. Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Nale also responded to the incident involving Riley and Greathouse along with Meyer, county officer Jesse Hutchinson, county reserve officer Steve Murphy and Conservation Officer Nate Berry.

That incident was reported at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, and officers discovered the vehicle was in about 2 feet of water with water coming into it.

Nale and Berry used an airboat to rescue Riley and Greathouse, who were not injured. The teens told police they had driven into the water once, turned around and then drove back through it again before the vehicle stalled.

Riley was cited for disregarding a traffic control device. Officers said the flooding on the roadway was clearly visible.

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Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.