TECUMSEH, Ind.-- A Zionsville man spent at least 45 minutes clinging to his capsized boat in the dangerously cold Wabash River on Tuesday morning north of Terre Haute.
Ted Kuhn, 43, was duck hunting on the Wabash around 10 a.m. when his small boat capsized near a public access boat launch in Tecumseh.
Around 45 minutes later, rescue workers from the Sugar Creek Fire Department pulled Kuhn from the river more than a mile and a half downstream near a railroad trestle, said Max Winchell, an Indiana conservation officer at the scene.
A thick fog made the rescue work more difficult, Winchell said.
Tecumseh resident Steve Day apparently played a big role in bringing Kuhn to safety. Day, who lives near the river, said he believes he was the only person to witness Kuhnâs boat overturn. After seeing the accident, Day went to a nearby salvage yard where a call was placed to authorities, he said.
â[Kuhnâs] boat spun and the motor died,â Day said. Then Day saw Kuhn swimming and hanging on to his capsized boat, he said. Day did not see what caused the boat to overturn, he said.
Kuhn, whose lips were still purple and who was still shivering 45 minutes after being pulled from the water, said he was grateful to the rescue workers and the witness who reported his accident. He said his boat overturned after he momentarily let go of the handle on his small outboard motor.
âIâm feeling good [now] thanks to the [rescue workers] here,â Kuhn said. He began his day hunting on the Wabash before dawn, he said. âI didnât realize how cold I was until I got insideâ the ambulance, Kuhn added.
Indiana Department of Natural Resources rescuers brought Kuhnâs small boat back to the boat launch in Tecumseh. The New Goshen Fire Department, the Vigo County Sheriffâs Department and Transcare also responded to the emergency.
Kuhn took all the right safety precautions for a day on the river, Winchell said. In addition to dressing warmly, Kuhn stayed calm, kept a tight hold on something that floated and was wearing a life jacket. âThat saved his life,â Winchell said.
Kuhn even had dry clothes back in his truck.
âHe was extremely lucky,â said Rex Schoffstall, chief of the New Goshen Fire Department, which took the initial emergency call. Schoffstall has seen many accidents on the river over the years in which the person who went into the river did not come out alive, he said.
The water temperature in the Wabash was 42 degrees, Winchell said in a media statement released later Tuesday.
âIâm glad they got him out,â Day said a few minutes after rescue workers brought Kuhn ashore. âThis was no day to be in [the river].â
Republished with permission of The Tribune-Star.