A veteran volunteer firefighter saved the life of a woman who was trapped in her car that was partially submerged upside down in rising water in a ditch off Southern Crossing in Bartholomew County.
Jason Perry, assistant chief for Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Department, said he responded to the 2100 block of east Southern Crossing, a stretch along County Road 450S near Jonesville Road, after a 911 call about a woman trapped in a vehicle in water was issued about 1:17 a.m. Saturday.
Perry, who marks 25 years as a firefighter this month, said he arrived first, within four or five minutes. Emergency responders said they believe the woman’s car hydroplaned off the roadway about 30 feet and flipped in the water-filled ditch, he added.
Heavy rains recently have caused high water in many areas of the county and multiple road closures.
“When I got there, I pulled up in the water and people were yelling that she was stuck in the car. I jumped in the water and knocked out the back window,” Perry said.
The possibility of hypothermia setting in for the woman was a concern.
“The water was terribly cold,” Perry said.
As a bystander shined a flashlight to help illuminate the car, Perry said he made his way into the backseat to get to the woman.
“She was very cold and in shock,” Perry said.
But, she was able to breath by floating on her back and keeping her head up to use the available 3-4 inches of breathing space, he said.
Perry said it took him about 3 to 4 minutes to pull her from the vehicle, out the back window.
As he pulled her to the edge of the ditch, he received assistance getting the woman out of the water from the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana State Police and Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Department Chief Rick Trimpe.
Perry said this was the first time in his career he performed a water rescue.
The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department Water Rescue Team was dispatched to the scene, and Columbus Police Department also assisted.
The woman was handed over to a Columbus Regional Hospital emergency medical services unit, and transported to Columbus Regional Hospital with minor injuries, according to a sheriff’s department news release.
More details about the woman and her condition were not immediately available.
Bartholomew County Emergency Management issued at 7:30 a.m. Saturday a list of roads closed in the county because of high water, which included Southern Crossing.
The sheriff’s department advised motorists to be mindful of hazardous weather and observant of roadway conditions, especially at night, because dangerous driving conditions can occur quickly.