OTWELL - Indiana Conservation Officers and volunteer fire fighters spent a fourth day searching for the body of missing Des Plains, Ill., woman along the overflow area of the East Fork of the White River at the Pike-Daviess County line. About seven Conservation Officers and volunteers from the Jefferson Township Fire Department in Pike County and Harrison Township in Daviess County scoured the area for Catie McGill, age 31.
“The receding flood waters will make our search efforts more effective,” said Conservation Officer Jet Quillen.
Crews had spent the first 3 days working in and around the swift floodwaters. The river finally began to fall exposing the McGill’s pick up truck in a cornfield where it landed after being washed off the roadway.
McGill was travelling with her husband Adam McGill, 35, early Sunday morning when he drove around the barricades along SR 257 and into the flood waters. “They went around and attempted to pass through and the vehicle stalled and then was swept off the roadway,” said Quillen.
Some duck hunters in the area saw the vehicle get swept off the road and tried to save the couple. “The McGills got out of their truck and tried to swim back to shore, but they got separated,” said Quillen. “They were able to pick up Adam but they couldn’t locate Catie.”
Adam McGill was taken to Daviess Community Hospital and later transferred to St. Mary’s Hospital in Evansville where he was treated for hypothermia. He has since been released.
Authorities put three boats into the water to try and find Catie McGill’s body. “We are using side-scan sonar,” said Quillen. “We also have crews walking along the edge of the water and searching by ATV. We are also bringing in a remote controlled underwater search vehicle. It’s like a small submarine with sonar and cameras.”
The search has been hampered by the high, swift moving water in the overflow area that runs through an empty cornfield. “This is the first day the water has fallen enough for us to even see their truck,” said Quillen. “That high water was moving so fast and stirring up so much debris in the water we couldn’t see anything.”
The McGill’s were on their way to Virginia where Adam is stationed in the Navy. They had just completed a visit with family in Washington when the accident happened. “It’s a bad situation, just a bad scenario,” said Quillen.
Authorities say the tragedy is a reminder for motorists to stay off of flooded roadways. “We urge people that anytime they see water over the road that they don’t take a chance and drive through it,” said Quillen. “I really wish people would take that advice to heart. It really doesn’t take a lot of water to knock a vehicle off the road and into trouble.”
The area along SR 257 has a particular reputation as a trouble spot for motorists who don’t heed the warning signs. “When the water is over the road you really can’t tell how deep it is,” said Lieutenant Conservation Officer Duane Englert. “The elevation is really deceiving and the road creates a low-head dam on the east side that adds more force to the water flow.”
Officials emphasize that any time a motorist comes to a sign that says road closed to turn around. “If there is a sign up that should tell you something,” said Quillen. “That means someone knows the water is a danger and people should find a different route.”
SR 257 remains closed because of water over the roadway.