Conservation officers search Turtle Creek Reservoir for missing boater

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Photo credit Indiana Conservation Officers

MEROM, Ind. – Indiana Conservation Officers continue to search Turtle Creek Reservoir for a missing boater last seen Sunday.

Josue Franco, 38, of Fairbanks, had been fishing with Charles Herrin, 72 of Fairbanks, Mathew Cornelison, 44, of Plainfield, and his son Gabriel Cornelison, 12, of Plainfield.

Witnesses Mike Daley and Ernie Blankenship, both of Terre Haute, were fishing on the lake when they noticed the winds had increased severely. They turned on their motor and started to head back to the boat ramp when they say a capsized boat with three people clinging to the top of the boat.

Daley and Blankenship rescued Herrin and the two Cornelison’s. They did not see Franco in the water at that time.

Indiana Conservation Officers credit Daley and Blankenship with saving the lives of these three individuals. They were in a severe state of hypothermia and would have been in an extremely dire situation had Daley and Blankenship not risked their own lives to rescue them.

Herrin and the two Cornelison’s were taken to Sullivan County Hospital for treatment. Mathew Cornelison was later flown by Lifeline Helicopter to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis where he remains in stable condition.

The wind speeds Sunday afternoon reached over 30 mph causing extreme wave action on the shallow lake. Indiana Conservation Officers launched a boat on Sunday to search for Franco, but they were forced to turn around due to the dangerous conditions.

Conservation officers resumed the search early this morning consisting of boat based sonar searches of the bottom of the lake and shoreline.

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