Police have begun citing motorists driving into floodwaters in the wake of several such incidents in recent days in the same area just north of Seymour.
The most recent incident occurred about 9 a.m. Wednesday and involved a 55-year-old Bartholomew County woman.
That woman, who has a Seymour address, was pulled from her vehicle after it became stranded when she drove north on County Road 700E into floodwater, Jackson County Officer Mark Holt said. The incident occurred just north of County Road 800N.
The road was covered with floodwater from the overflowing East Fork White River.
Holt said the woman was told she would receive a $150 citation in the mail after he and Indiana Conservation Officer Nate Berry used an air boat to retrieve her from the vehicle, which was partially filled with water.
The floodwater was so swift it took Berry four attempts to get the boat close enough to the driver’s side of the vehicle to pull her out through the window, Holt said.
“We had to bump into it to get her,” he said.
The vehicle was left in the road, Holt said.
“Maybe keeping it there will help to discourage other motorists from doing the same thing,” he said.
The woman’s husband also was at the scene and attempted to walk out and get her until he was stopped, Holt said.
The man’s actions could have been disastrous, he said.
The rescue was the second in two days at that location.
Early Tuesday, two motorists drove into floodwaters in the same area. Both drivers, who also face $150 fines, were able to walk out of their vehicles, but two passengers remained with one vehicle and had to be rescued by Berry and county Officer Jesse Hutchinson.
On Monday, another motorist became stranded in the same area but was able to get out. Her vehicle was left at county roads 700E and 800N.
“It’s a high-traffic area with a lot of people trying to get to work,” Holt said.
The river crested at 17.79 feet at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday at Rockford north of Seymour but still was at 17.66 feet at noon Wednesday. It’s not expected to fall below flood stage (12 feet) until Saturday night.
Lt. Andy Wayman with the sheriff’s department said it’s up to the police to decide whether to cite someone for driving into floodwater.
It has been something county officers have been willing to do during recent incidents because those people also are putting rescue workers’ lives at risk, he said.
“We can fine people who drive into floodwaters up to $500,” Wayman said.
The general rule of thumb has been to write a ticket for $150 the first time it happens and up the cost for any additional violations of the county ordinance by the same motorist.
Wayman said he could understand motorists who might not see water on the roads in the dark. But the latest incident occurred in daylight, and some of the cars from the previous incidents were still there.