Authorities believe Greenwood man drowned while trying to save dogs

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. (Jan. 20, 2016) - Johnson County authorities believe a Greenwood man drowned in an icy pond while trying to save his dogs.

The Johnson County Sheriffs Department says the wife of 43-year-old Brian Persinger called them after not being able to reach her husband all day Tuesday.  She told police Brian had planned to do some work on a house they own on East County Road 350 North, near Franklin.  She said Brian had taken the family’s two dogs with him.  She drove to the home Tuesday night and found her husband’s truck, running and unlocked in the driveway.

The first deputy to arrive found a trail of footprints in the snow, leading to a pond in the back yard of the home.

“The first deputy to arrive did a perimeter search of the house and saw the footprints out on the ice, knew more than likely something bad had happened,” said Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox.  “He could tell by the footprints that were on the ice, from the bank onto the ice, that it was almost like a scooting motion, like he was trying to be very careful.”

The footprints ended at a patch of recently frozen ice on the surface of the pond.

The Johnson County Sheriffs SCUBA Dive Team arrived and went into the city water.  Divers located Brian Persinger’s body under about ten feet of water.

“More than likely, the dogs that he took with him on this trip got away from him, got on the pond, probably went through the ice,” Cox said.  “And in an attempt to save the dogs’ lives, he lost his own life.”

The dogs were also nowhere to be found.

“They (divers) wanted to go back in to see if the animals were in there,” Cox said.  “And unfortunately, I had to put a stop to that because it was dangerous enough pulling the victim out of that body of water.”

Although it’s not known exactly how long Persinger was in the water, investigators believe he fell in during daylight hours because he was still wearing his sunglasses when his body was pulled from the pond.

Brian Persinger, who graduated from Center Grove High School in 1990, owned Persinger Roofing, Inc. in Greenwood.  Family members were asking for privacy as they were dealing with their sudden loss.

“A wife has lost her husband, some children have lost their father,” Cox said.

The Sheriff hopes others will take heed of the serious warning from the family’s tragedy.

“What we’re asking is folks not to go out onto the ice after their animals,” Cox said.  “To allow law enforcement and/or the fire departments to take care of that for them.  If there’s any lesson to be learned here, we would ask individuals who may be in this same situation to please take the time to dial 911.”