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The Scoop

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Searchers thanked in swamp rescue

Statement issued Wednesday by the Steuben County Sheriff's Department:

On May 31st at approximately 8:30 p.m., a call to Sheriff Troyer started a 12 hour search for an 83 year old woman in Steuben County's southwest quadrant.

The Sheriff's Department responded to the Loyal and Trois Wilson residence at 1690 S 800 W where the investigation and search began. It was reported by Mr. Wilson that Mrs. Wilson had left a note indicating that she had went shopping at approximately 8:00 a.m. When she failed to return by 5:00 p.m., Mr. Wilson began calling family and friends, then searched his property, when he discovered Mrs. Wilson's vehicle still in a barn. At this point he called the Sheriff.

When the Sheriff and deputies arrived an extensive search was conducted of the Wilson home, outbuildings, and immediate yard and field area with no success. With daylight fading, Fremont Marshal Joe Patterson, Orland Marshal Brooke Norton and members of the Salem Center Fire Department and the Steuben County Emergency Management department responded. A ground search during the night hours was conducted by foot, on horseback, and with ATV vehicles. At approximately 11:00 p.m. a helicopter volunteered by Jack Shaw of Coldwater Lake/Orland responded. The helicopter searched the area with night vision and thermal imaging devices for well over an hour. At 2:00 a.m. the search efforts were exhausted and set to resume with full force at first light.

At 6:30 this morning 45 people from the Sheriff's Department, Salem-Hudson-Ashley-Orland-Angola-Metz and Fremont Fire Departments, Fremont Police, Orland Police, Emergency Management and the Indiana State Police responded to the residence where an organized search began. The Indiana State Police air plane flying over an area approximately1/2 to 3/4 mile directly west of the residence located Mrs. Wilson in waist deep water waving a white shirt. The horse and ATV teams converged and rescued her from the heavily flooded swamp area. Mrs. Wilson was taken to a waiting ambulance where she was evaluated, and then transported to Cameron Hospital for further treatment.

In an interview with Steuben County Sheriff's Department Detectives, Mrs. Wilson advised that she left the home on foot at approximately 8:15 a.m. Tuesday; she walked to the west of the home looking for flat rocks for a craft project she was working on. Walking along a creek Mrs. Wilson advised that she became stuck in the mud and was able to free herself however continued walking west along the creek area knowing it would lead her to a familiar area. As night fell, it is believed she became disoriented and began traveling further back and to the northwest where she stopped in the middle of a large swamp area with waist deep water. She remained there until the air plane began flying over.

The successful rescue of Mrs. Wilson is directly attributable to the joint effort given by all involved, and by the grace of God. Volunteers not only brought themselves but personal ATV's, watercraft, horses, aircraft and recovery equipment. A huge THANK YOU to everyone that took part in this operation! It should be comforting to the people of Steuben County knowing that we have such an amazing emergency service volunteers and personnel!

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