4 ARRESTED AFTER RESCUE ON WILDCAT
October 1, 1989
Four Lafayette, Indiana men started their Thursday evening floating down Wildcat Creek. They ended up in jail after police rescued them from a logjam, where their raft was stuck. The men were jailed on suspicion of public intoxication.
Tippecanoe County Deputy Steve Kohne was patrolling on Eisenhower Road about 7 p.m., when he saw the four men marooned on a deadfall underneath Peters Mill Bridge. The men had lashed together two inflatable rafts and an inner tube, which snagged on a 20 by 40 foot deadfall in the center of the creek. The creek, swelled from the recent rainfall, was more than 8 feet deep near the deadfall, and the undertow was fierce.
Denham fell from the deadfall while he was reaching for a cooler. He was pulled under the deadfall, but managed to float to safety on the bank. He told police that he hit his head on some logs and was knocked out, but he was not treated for any injuries.
"People don't realize how dangerous these deadfalls are," Kohns said. "The front end acts as a vacuum cleaner and sucks anything under it."
Kohne and Sgt. William Anderson, members of the county's underwater rescue and recovery team, threw the three remaining man a rope that they tied to the pile of logs. The deputies then pulled the three to safety using a pulley that was anchored on the bank. Kohne estimated that the current around the deadfall was flowing between 25 and 30 knots.
"They don't call it the Wildcat for nothing. This was a very dangerous situation, and when you've been drinking, it's even worse, because your coordination is impaired." The group had apparently started floating at Wildcat Park, off Indiana 25, about 6 p.m. "We didn't figure we we-re going to get in this much trouble." The men were cited for not having life jackets aboard the rafts.
SOURCE: Kell Rota, Journal and Courier, Lafayette, Indianna
ANALYSIS: Inexperience, poor equipment, and alcohol impaired judgement lead to this incident. (CW)