TERRE HAUTE – An Indiana State student and her boyfriend are being treated for hypothermia after falling through thin ice in the Terre Haute area.
According to officials from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Arica Wellman, 21, and Brenna Chandler, 21, decided to take a short cut while walking down the Wabashiki Trail Saturday evening. The new route took them through wetlands with ice and water ranging from a few inches deep to several feet. They called for help after winding up in water that was four to five feet deep.
Around 6:40 p.m., Chandler called 911 requesting help. Firefighters arrived, locating the victims by the sound of their voice. Chandler and Wellman were both awake and alert, but they’d wandered into chest-high water—and had been stranded there for more than an hour and a half. They couldn’t move.
Rescuers from the DNR and Sugar Creek Fire Department wore immersion survival suits—special dry suits designed specifically to withstand extreme cold—as they broke through ice and finally reached the couple. Since neither Chandler nor Wellman could move, rescuers pulled them from the water and took them to an ambulance.
Chandler went to Regional Hospital in Terre Haute to be treated for severe hypothermia. An air ambulance took Wellman–who also suffered from severe hypothermia–to Methodist Hospital at IU Health in Indianapolis.
Conservation officers said the case shows the importance of being prepared and serves as a reminder that no ice is “safe ice.” The DNR said no one should go on ice unless it’s at least four inches thick.