STEUBEN CO. – The Indiana State Police and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources are investigating an incident that occurred on Snow Lake last night, where a Fremont man had to be rescued after his vehicle crashed through the ice.
At approximately 7:10 p.m. last night, troopers and numerous Steuben County area first responders were dispatched to a report of an occupied vehicle that had crashed through the ice on Snow Lake’s north basin. ISP Sergeant Andy Smith was the first to arrive on the scene. He was flagged down by a Snow Lake resident, who then lead Sgt. Smith and EMS personnel to where the vehicle had gone through the ice.
A stranded adult male later identified at Frederick Forte, 67, of Fremont was found straddling the roof of a Polaris Ranger utility vehicle (UTV) that was submerged out in the open water and calling for help. Sgt. Smith and the medics quickly retrieved a throw rope and attempted an assisted self-rescue, hoping to pull Forte from the open water to the shoreline.
At about the same time, rescue divers from Fremont and Mets fire departments arrived on the scene, entered the open water, and made direct contact with Forte. The divers were able to pull Forte out of the water and onto the ice, where awaiting firefighters and medics loaded Forte onto an ice sled and pulled him to shore.
Forte remained alert and conscious throughout the rescue. He told first responders that he was alone when his vehicle went through the ice. He was transported via ambulance to a local area hospital for medical evaluation and treatment related to the cold water/weather exposure.
Divers conducted a search of the submerged vehicle and the surrounding water to verify and ensure that there were no other occupants involved. There was an attempt made to remove the UTV from the water last night, however, conditions were not favorable. The UTV was left submerged and will be removed at a later date.
The Indiana DNR Conservation Officer that responded to the scene will be handling the official crash investigation and associated reporting.
Alcohol was suspected as a contributing factor in the incident, and the troopers followed up with that portion of the investigation. Their case report will be turned over to the Steuben County Prosecutor for review and determination of charges to be filed if charges are warranted.
Assisting in this incident were troopers from the Fort Wayne Post, Indiana DNR Conservation Officers, Steuben County Sheriff’s Department, Fremont/Mets/Salem Fire Department personnel, Steuben County EMS, and Bill’s Towing Service.
This remains an active investigation. At this time there are no further details to release.