A 68-year-old Monroe County man was rescued from his van Sunday afternoon after it stalled two times in floodwaters in eastern Jackson County.
Alexander Ferenczy III of Bloomington was pulled from his vehicle by Indiana State Police Trooper Christopher Lockman, who donned his swift water rescue gear, entered the water while connected to a line being manned by other officers and carried him to safety, according to a news release from Sgt. Stephen Wheeles.
Wheeles, public information officer for the ISP Versailles Post, said at the time Lockman reached Ferenczy’s 2015 Ford van, it was about 300 feet from dry land off County Road 50N near County Road 950E.
Ferenczy initially called 911 shortly before 3 p.m. to report his vehicle had stalled in floodwaters, said Lt. Andy Wayman with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.
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Wayman said Ferenczy, however, was able to get his vehicle restarted and told a dispatcher he was going to try driving out of the floodwaters.
“Our dispatchers told him to not do that and stay where he was at and we would come and get him,” Wayman said. “He went ahead and stalled out again.”
Lockman, along with other emergency personnel, including Jackson County Officer Rob Henley, county reserve officers Charlie and Greg Murphy, Crothersville Capt. J.L. McElfresh and Conservation Officer Blake Everhart, responded to the scene, Wheeles said.
Lockman, who is a member of the Indiana State Police’s Underwater Search and Recovery Team, determined a water rescue was necessary before an airboat could be brought to the scene.
After reaching Ferenczy, Lockman was able to attach a personal flotation device to him and carry him to safety. Ferenczy was not able to walk due to a prior medical condition, Wheeles said.
Once he reached dry land, officers began administering first aid to Ferenczy. He then was treated by Jackson County Emergency Medical Services personnel before being taken to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour for further evaluation.
Wayman said there were at least eight incidents of motorists driving into floodwaters over the weekend and Monday morning in the county. All, including Ferenczy, received a citation from the sheriff’s department.
“Most of them were able to walk out or we were able to walk out and get them or a fire department could drive out and get them because their equipment is higher,” Wayman said. “We didn’t have to use our boat or an airboat.”
In Ferenczy’s case, Everhart and Henley later used an airboat to go out to his van and get a bag containing his personal belongings, Wayman said.
Wayman said county officers watch flood-prone areas, and if they catch someone driving into or out of floodwaters, they will receive a citation. The citation can range in cost from $150 to $500.
“If the mere fact that they are risking their lives doesn’t make an impression, maybe a fine will,” Wayman said. “They are putting our lives at risk when we have to rescue them, and we will rescue them.”
The East Fork White River was expected to be at 16.2 feet at 8 p.m. Monday and fall below flood stage of 12 feet by 6 a.m. Wednesday.