Bodies of two missing boaters recovered

-A A +A
By Vince Luecke

Pair of boats pulled under by fast-moving water below dam

CANNELTON - Indiana conservation officers Tuesday recovered the bodies of two men missing since their fishing boats were pulled under water Monday morning near the Cannelton Locks and Dam.

Ricky D. Wiseman, 47, of Troy was located at 2:17 p.m. Tuesday less than 400 yards downstream from Gate No. 5 at the dam, Indiana conservation officers said. The body of Barton Zimmerman, 49, of Corydon was found about two hours later.

Two other men, Ed Elder, 69, of Tell City and Shawn L. Allen, 50, of Corydon, were rescued by other fishermen. Allen was treated and released from Perry County Memorial Hospital. Elder was in serious but now improving condition at University Hospital in Louisville, Ky.

Conservation officers used side-scanning radar and an underwater robotic vehicle in the search, which was focused downstream from the dam's gates. That's where the boat carrying Wiseman, and then another with Zimmerman inside, were pulled under by turbulent water flowing through the gates.

According to conservation officers, Zimmerman and Allen were fishing below the dam at about 7 a.m. when Wiseman and Elder's boat approached their location but continued toward the dam. The small boat was pulled by the current toward the face of the dam, pulling it under the surface of the water.

Zimmerman and Allen came to the men's assistance, but their boat either capsized or was pulled under.

Not far away in a second boat were Zimmerman and Allen's fishing companions, Michael Graw and Jeremy Wrights. Authorities said they asked two anglers in a fourth boat, Gregory Kelley of Utica, Ky., and Ronda L. Allison, of Cookeville, Tenn., to call 911.

Graw and Wrights were able to pull Allen, the only one of the four men in the water wearing a life preserver, to safety. Kelley and Allison located Elder just below the surface of the water, pulled him into their boat and began CPR.

Zimmerman and Wiseman could not be found.

Allen and Elder were taken to the Indiana shore by other boaters.

Allen was exhausted and disoriented but was able to share some information with police before being taken to Perry County Memorial Hospital.

The search for Wiseman and Zimmerman continued through the day Monday with the sonar unit that provides detailed images of the river's bottom and objects under the surface. Efforts halted at dusk and resumed Tuesday.

The robotic vehicle was being demonstrated by a New York company to conservation officers in Indianapolis was brought to the scene Tuesday.

Authorities said bodies of the two men surfaced during the search.

Mac Spainhour, a public-information officer for the law-enforcement division of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, urged boaters and fishermen to wear the life preservers they're required to carry on boats.

This week's drownings follow the death in June of a Taswell man. He drowned when a boat he and two friends were in was swamped during a storm. The other two men were rescued. Life preservers were on the boat but only one could be reached before it sank.