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HomeGeneralIndiana Men Find Driver Trapped in Wrecked Vehicle While Scouting Fishing Holes

Indiana Men Find Driver Trapped in Wrecked Vehicle While Scouting Fishing Holes

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A mixed picture of a rescued man and the debris.

A man and his father-in-law searched for fishing spots to pass the time while their wives were away. During their exploration, they unexpectedly discovered a man trapped for several days inside a wrecked vehicle, as reported by authorities in Indiana on Tuesday.

Mario Garcia and his son-in-law, Nivardo De La Torre, shared that they discovered the man, initially assuming he was deceased, in a shallow creek beneath an Interstate 94 bridge in the city of Portage around 3:35 p.m. 

The pair, along with a state police official, disclosed this information during an evening news conference. The motorist was eventually transported by helicopter to a hospital. Sergeant Glen Fifield, a regional spokesperson for the Indiana State Police, mentioned that at the hospital, the injuries were evaluated as life-threatening.

Garcia and De La Torre mentioned that the driver wasn’t sure about the duration of his entrapment. Additionally, he was experiencing various visible injuries, such as a broken hand. Garcia stated, “He just mentioned he couldn’t feel his extremities.”

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Initially, the pair believed they were observing a deceased individual. However, it wasn’t until one of them touched him that the motorist “turned their head and began speaking,” as conveyed by Fifield during the news conference.

Fifield stated that investigators were establishing the driver’s identity, though he seemed to be a man in his late 20s from the South Bend area. According to Fifield, the possibility existed that he had been at the site for almost a week without detection, as the area is not visible from the interstate.

“I looked over the bridge, and you can’t see it,” Fifield remarked, emphasizing that no accident reports had been received in the area in recent days. 

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Authorities suspect that the man was traveling westbound on Interstate 94, close to mile marker 19, when the vehicle veered off the roadway for reasons that are currently unknown.

“His vehicle missed that guardrail, so he’s driving on the grass shoulder before he goes airborne,” Fifield said. “His vehicle goes down into the creek, where he rolls several times. It rolled underneath the bridge.”

There, the motorist stayed for days.

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Upon spotting the wreckage, Garcia and De La Torre approached to get a closer look but were uncertain about what they saw. Garcia expressed, “You could barely tell what it was. It was mangled completely.”

It remains uncertain whether the trapped driver had access to food and water. Fifield mentioned that a potential factor hindering earlier assistance could have been the driver’s inability to reach his cell phone.

According to Fifield, it took rescuers from the Portage and Burns Harbor fire departments several hours to free the man. The challenging conditions of the problematic wreckage and its difficult-to-reach location contributed to the extended rescue time. 

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The site along Indiana’s Salt Creek posed obstacles, requiring a hike, featuring moving water, and being about 30 feet wide, making access for first responders challenging. Garcia mentioned that he and De La Torre might have skipped the scouting on Tuesday.

This would have been the case if his wife hadn’t been at work and his daughter out, which left the pair looking for activities to fill their time on a “lazy day.” According to Garcia, after exploring other locations, Salt Creek became their final stop of the day.

The weather in Northwest Indiana added another element of chance that ultimately aided the trapped driver. High temperatures reached 58 degrees in Porter County on Monday. Lows were in the 40s, according to National Weather Service data.

Fifield said freezing conditions were present last year, but the recent weather is warmer than usual. “Quite frankly,” he added, “it’s a miracle he’s alive.”

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