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Otwell Man Saved From East Fork Of White River
Updated July 21, 2015 7:59 AM
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(EAST FORK WHITE RIVER) - An Otwell man was rescued after he drove past the barricades at Capehart Bridge and his vehicle was swept off the road into high waters.

According to an Indiana State Police report, 62-year-old James Seitz of Otwell was traveling along the East Fork of the White River on State Road 257 at just after 6 a.m. Monday when he ignored the road closed signs and drove past the barricades at the Capehart Bridge.

Seitz drove into the water on the Pike County side of the bridge and the current swept his 2000 Toyota off the road.

Seitz climbed out onto the roof of the car and called for help.

A short time later an Otwell volunteer fire fighter pulled him from the water in his private boat. Authorities report that just as Seitz got into the boat his car was washed into deeper water in the river and disappeared.

Seitz was cited by police for disregarding a traffic control device.

"This guy is very lucky to be alive," said Sargent Todd Ringle with the Indiana State Police. "He put himself at risk and the fire fighter who rescued him at risk by disregarding the signs and driving into the water. People have to pay attention to the signs. It was clearly marked. You just cannot drive into floodwaters."

Seitz rescue is the first in the area since Katie McGill drowned just after last Christmas. She disappeared into the East Fork of the White River after her husband Adam McGill drove past barricades and road closed signs. He was rescued by some nearby duck hunters, but they were unable to reach his wife. Her body was recovered three months later.

The drowning prompted authorities to place new barricades that were expected to completely shut off access to the flooded areas, but Daviess County police say someone have moved them creating an opening for Seitz to travel down the road into the swift current.

"The problem is that the barricades were supposed to be filled with water or sand and they weren't," says Daviess County Sheriff Jerry Harbstreit. "Without the extra weight anyone could move them. Our deputy put them back in place without any problem."

Sheriff Harbstreit made a call to INDOT officials to find out why the barricades were not placed properly.

"With the added water or sand it makes barricades weight around 1,300 pounds making it impossible for a person to move," Harbstreit added.

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