MORGAN COUNTY, Ind. — Search crews recovered the final missing person from the boating accident on the White River. Five people died in the tragedy.
Recovery efforts began Monday night after a boat capsized just north of Martinsville near the Three Rivers Public Access Point. Seven family members were in the boat at the time.
“The boat was attempting to ferry a large group of individuals across the river to another sandbar,” said DNR Captain Jet Quillen. “For some reason the boat capsized. All occupants, seven total, ended up in the water.”
Authorities say at least nine family members and friends jumped in the water from the riverbank in an attempt to save those who fell out of the boat. Arriving deputies and firefighters, along with family members, were able to pull four people out of the water, DNR officials said.
Medics transported 73-year-old Emilia Villegas and a 6-year-old boy to a local hospital where they later died.
Rescue agencies began searching the water for three people who were still missing Monday night: 32-year-old Antonio Sanchez-Maldonado, 63-year-old Niseforo Sanchez, and 40-year-old Rigoberto Conchas.
Shortly before 11 a.m. Tuesday, DNR confirmed they had located the bodies of Niseforo Sanchez and Rigoberto Conchas.
“They were located approximately a quarter mile south of where the boat capsized last night,” Quillen said.
The final victim, Sanchez-Maldonado, was located Thursday morning just downstream from where the boat capsized in the river.
Investigators with the DNR say it’s a tragedy everyone across the state can learn from.
“This is another perfect example of a beautiful holiday and family outing that turns tragic and unfortunately this story happens too often,” said DNR Lt. Angela Goldman. “The final victim was found floating in the river very close to where the other victims were found.”
Goldman says in this case none of the victims had been wearing a life jacket at the time they went in the water.
“If you’re going to be out on the water, know you’re limitations on the water. If you can’t swim wear a life jacket,” said Goldman.
Goldman encourages everyone to always use proper safety equipment and monitor water conditions.
“Accidents happen so quickly and tragedy can strike when you’re not expecting it. So if you’re going to be on the water, water can be so unforgiving, so be prepared,” said Goldman.
The investigation into what caused the boat to capsize is ongoing.