Man driving over bridge hears call for help, officers perform flood water rescue

Canoe capsizes, stranding Indiana man in floodwater

JACKSON COUNTY, IN (WAVE) – The rising waters are getting dangerous in some spots in southern Indiana. First responders in Jackson County, Indiana saved a man’s life Sunday night, pulling him out of the cold flood waters after his canoe capsized.

The East Fork of the White River has dropped nearly two feet since Sunday, the water’s dropping quickly. When the waters were still high Sunday night, Tony Davis decided to make a trip out to check on the area.

“I come out to check the properties, see if the water went down, if I could get to it,” Davis said.

He was driving across the bridge with his windows down when he heard a man calling for help. He pulled over and got out a flashlight, eventually spotting a man in the trees, stuck in the water. He called police and within minutes, officers had arrived.

“I know when I arrived on scene, he was yelling for help," said Cpl. Nate Berry, Indiana Conservation Officer. “You could hear him yelling for help. By the time we got out to him, it was more of a distressed moan. He was, the water was running over his head. I mean, I couldn’t believe I was there and he was there at the same time.”

In the river was his neighbor, 59-year-old Jerry Cash. Officers said Cash was trying to bring his canoe in out of the flooding when the water took over. The canoe capsized, leaving Cash out in the cold, rushing water for at least 30 minutes, struggling to keep his head above water.

Officers brought an air boat and Jon boat out quickly, trying to reach him in time.

“He had gotten caught on a limb and the current was pushing him up against that limb. And he was just doing everything he could to hang on,” Berry said.

“We think that he was in his last moments of being able to hang on. He wasn’t able to help himself into the boat at all,” Brad Barker, Jackson County Sheriff’s Deputy.

"As I was trying to get through the flood water with the boat, the guys in the boat and the guys on the shore were doing a great job encouraging him to hang on, yelling for him and telling him 'hey, we're almost there', because it was getting pretty thin there toward the end,” Berry said. “I really do think, had those guys not been there encouraging him, letting him know help was on the way and the guys on the boat telling him, 'hey, we're coming', it would have been real easy for him to slip underneath the logs."

They pulled Cash out. His body temperature was down and he was in shock. They brought him to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, where Davis said he later called and spoke to his neighbor.

“He says, I just wanted to let you know I’m at the hospital. I said I know. He’s like what? I didn’t even know it was you. I said I know, you were delirious,” Davis said.

Officers said Cash is lucky his neighbor was nearby Sunday night, it saved his life.

“A work by God is the only thing I can describe of him having his window down and being in the area at the right time and making that call to us,” Barker said.

He hopes this can teach others to avoid floodwaters at all costs.

“It’s just, when the water’s up, stay out of it. Stay away from it,” Davis said.

Investigators said Cash was not wearing a life jacket at the time of the accident. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Brownstown Police Department, Brownstown Volunteer Fire Department and Jackson County EMS worked together to rescue Cash.

Copyright 2019 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.