Pulitzer Entry - River Rescue 1998

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• By Caroline Clay
• Apr 16, 1998

WILLIAMS; A practice rescue attempt by Indiana conservation officers turned into a terrifying, real-life rescue Wednesday when four men were thrown from their boats and sucked into a raging boil of water at the base of Williams Dam on the White River. One officer was critically injured in the Lawrence County incident. The officer, 1st Sgt. Karl Kelley, 52, was unresponsive when he was pulled from the water by his comrades. Kelley was taken to Dunn Memorial Hospital in Bedford after first his fellow officers and then paramedics tried to revive him at the scene.From Dunn, Kelley was taken by helicopter to the University of Louisville Hospital in Kentucky, where he was in very critical condition at the hospital\'s surgical intensive care unit, a hospital spokeswoman said.Kelley, a resident of Shelby County, is assistant District 6 commander with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ Paynetown post at Lake Monroe.Indiana conservation officers Steve Woolwine and Tom Jahn and a South Bend firefighter were also trapped in the water. After being thrashed about for about 20 minutes, Woolwine and Jahn appeared exhausted but unharmed when they returned to the shore. The South Bend officer, whose name was not available Wednesday night, was taken to Dunn Memorial Hospital, where he was treated and released, Indiana conservation police said.Officers knew they were taking part in a potentially dangerous drill; known as a two-boat tether; when they set out into the chilly waters of the East Fork of the White River from the Williams boat ramp below the dam early Wednesday afternoon.It's one of the most difficult and dangerous kinds of rescues officers may be called upon to perform, said Indiana conservation officer Capt. Terry Hyndman, who supervised Wednesday's drill.
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