A one car, overnight accident Tuesday near Millhousen claimed the life of a North Decatur High School senior.
According to Decatur County Sheriff Greg Allen, Brandon Coldwell, 19, was reported missing Tuesday evening by his family at around 10 p.m.
Coldwell’s car, a red 1999 Chevy Camaro, was discovered submerged in a creek at County Road 60 East, just north of County Road 900 South.
“At this point,” Allen said, “We’re just not sure what happened or why he left the road. The vehicle went off the left-hand side of the roadway at a small bridge and went over an embankment into a creek. We’re not positive what time the crash occurred, but, based on the evidence at the scene, we think it was sometime between 6:30 and 8 p.m.”
Allen expressed certainty, however, that the accident occurred before the onset of Tuesday night’s rainstorm.
“The damage sustained to the creek bank suggests the incident happened before the onset of rain,” the Sheriff said.
According to Allen, the Decatur County Sheriff’s Department received a call at around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday of a car 90 percent submerged at the location in question.
“We had vehicles on the scene in about seven or eight minutes,” he said.
Coldwell’s body wasn’t in the car and wouldn’t be found until 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in the creek, at the address of 544 East County Road 900 South. According to the sheriff, the current carried the body some 1.8 miles from the crash site.
More than 50 searchers participated in the extensive operation. The team included personnel from the Millhousen, Letts, Westport, and Greensburg Fire Departments, as well as a rapid-water rescue team from Letts. Also assisting were three Dive Units from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, as well as three regular DNR officers. Decatur County EMS was also on-scene, as was the Decatur County Coroner.
“It was a huge search,” Allen said. “We had a command trailer set up on-scene, with an Indiana State Police helicopter assisting in the search and another State trooper assisting with the crash investigation.”
Allen added that a number of family members and other civilian volunteers, including a handful on horseback, also participated in the search.
Coldwell’s body showed no signs of visible trauma.
“Nothing stood out as far physical injury,” Allen said. “We’re just not sure what caused his death, whether it was drowning or the accident itself."
As of this writing, an autopsy, in conjunction with a toxicology screen, was scheduled for Thursday. Autopsy results should be ready Friday, while toxicology results will take between six and eight weeks, Allen said.
Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011.