Two hunters survive after boat sinks on Webster Lake

KOSCIUSKO CO. – A hunter is hospitalized after his boat sank on Webster Lake Saturday morning.

At approximately 11:16 a.m., Kosciusko County Dispatch Center was contacted by a residential alarm company after they were alerted to an unauthorized residential entry to a home on Webster Lake.

Despite frigid temperatures and wind gusts forecast to reach up to 50 miles per hour, Trenton Stackhouse, 27, of Milford and Darick Stiles, 27, of Warsaw, set out to waterfowl hunt on Webster Lake near Epworth Forest.

After getting underway, the men quickly realized the conditions were too difficult to overcome.

The men attempted to gather their decoys and return to the boat ramp when large waves overtook their jon boat and it began to sink. A jon boat is a special class of aluminum fishing boat with a flat or nearly flat bottom.

Moments before their boat became fully submerged, Stackhouse and Stiles unsuccessfully attempted to don their lifejackets and were forced to grab several waterfowl decoys and a floating gun case for buoyancy to swim the several hundred yards to shore.

Once on shore, Stackhouse became unresponsive due to severe hypothermia. Stiles then entered an unoccupied home to find shelter to save Stackhouse.

Stackhouse was transported to Kosciusko Community Hospital with severe hypothermia.  

The incident is still under investigation.

Indiana Conservation Officers remind the public that Indiana law requires life jackets to be readily accessible and in good condition for all boat occupants while underway.  Hunters utilizing watercraft should also plan for severe environmental conditions associated with strong winds and storms.

Responding agencies include North Webster Police Department, North Webster Fire Department, North Webster EMS, and Indiana Conservation Officers.