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Rescue effort helps woman survive cold creek ordeal

Rescue effort helps woman survive cold creek ordeal
Rescue effort helps woman survive cold creek ordeal
Angela Mosier recuperates at her Corydon home after escaping from her water-filled car that was washed away in a rain-swollen creek last week. (Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor)

Shortly after 4 a.m. Thursday morning, a Corydon woman’s car plunged into the dark, frigid backwaters of the rising, rain-swollen Ohio River in Little Mosquito Creek. She climbed out of the window and swam for shore, where she grabbed the trunk of a tree and held on for dear life in the remote, sparsely populated area.
“I was screaming for an hour until somebody heard me,” said Angela Mosier, who went into the water while delivering papers for The Courier-Journal on the route she’s had since last July. “I think the Lord tested me. He let me know life’s too short.”
Mosier’s cries were heard by a couple at a nearby house, when they awoke at 5 to the alarm clock, as usual, got out of bed and let their dog out of the house.
That’s when Don Jennings and Janet Wyatt realized the screams they were hearing weren’t from a cat or a coyote, but a woman in distress. He rushed out the door, toward the cries, while Wyatt dialed 9-1-1 for help.
“I didn’t need any coffee or caffeine,” he said later. “I had plenty of adrenaline.
“Waiting for the EMS, the firemen and boat to get there, I felt really helpless,” Jennings said. “All I could do was talk to her.”
But that helped. “This guy came and talked to me, and it didn’t take no time ’til the ambulance was there,” said Mosier.
Mosier, 35, a divorced mother, said the morning was dark and foggy, and she didn’t see the water over the road until it was too late. “The only way I knew there was water there was when it started coming in the car.”
She said thinking of her daughter, 9-year-old Brittany, gave her the courage to hang on to the tree and those thoughts saved her life.
“I didn’t want my daughter growing up without me; I kept thinking of her,” she said. “When they (the ambulance crew and firefighters) got to me, I said, ‘I can’t hang on no longer.’ ”
“The young lady was getting desperate,” said the Rev. Richard (Dick) Goodwin, who is also a member of the responding Elizabeth Volunteer Fire Dept. “She was so cold she couldn’t feel her arms or her legs or her feet.”
Elizabeth firefighter Mark Hildebrand arrived with his flat-bottomed fishing boat hooked to his truck and hauled it to the water rescue.
“He and John Hurley went out and got her down from the tree,” he said.
Harrison County Hospital’s ambulance was already on the scene.
Emergency Medical Technicians Randy Fessel and Ramsey Vance responded to the 9-1-1 call. Mosier was suffering severe hypothermia, so the EMTs attempted to warm her body with hot packs, warm blankets and warm fluids, Fessel said.
“Basically we treated her for hypothermia and shock,” he said, adding the temperature had dropped drastically from the day before to just above freezing.
They transported her by ambulance to Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services in New Albany, a closer, straighter shot on S.R. 111 than the roads to Harrison County Hospital in Corydon.
Mosier never stopped shivering along the way, which Fessel said was a good sign because it meant her body was trying to compensate her cold ordeal, and hadn’t given up. “It was trying to warm itself up,” he said. “She was quite cold.”
Hildebrand said plucking Mosier from the safety of the tree “wasn’t that much trouble,” but there was “a little bit of current” in the water.
When he and Hurley reached her by boat, Hildebrand said Mosier was “mainly cold, wet and more or less worn out.”
Nevertheless, she cooperated with her rescuers advice not to jump into the boat, which could have overturned it.
Hildebrand, assistant fire chief, said the water rescue was the first by the Elizabeth fire department since he joined the volunteer force eight years ago. And despite the drama, the firefighters don’t feel like heroes when such events occur. “It’s just something you’ve got to do,” Hildebrand said.
Goodwin, who is pastor of the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant in Elizabeth, through his association with the fire department, as a chaplain for the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept. and head of the Harrison County Chaplain’s Association, frequently deals with unfortunate, sometimes tragic events.
So he is especially pleased and relieved the water rescue ended successfully.
“There were a lot of things to be thankful for,” he said. “We’re very sorry she had this mishap, but grateful it wasn’t tragic.”
Her customers are also grateful.
Frances B. Gregory of Laconia, former Taylor Township Trustee and one of Mosier’s customers since last fall, said Mosier is a hard-working, most dependable delivery person who conscientiously contacted the 15 or so customers left on the route to tell them why they hadn’t gotten their paper. “You just don’t get many of that type. She is never late.
“This is a dedicated little woman,” Gregory said.
Mosier, a native Harrison Countian, admits she is normally the spunky sort, but she is having problems dealing with the aftermath of her ordeal.
Extremely weak, hoarse and bruised extensively, she is racking up medical bills (four antibiotic prescription pills cost $35, she said), can’t drive and so has been unable to return to her delivery route. She has no car to drive, even if she could.
Insurance will cover most but not all of the remaining loan on her car, a 1995 Chevrolet Cavalier which is, of course, ruined. Also, she will have to get another car to go back to work.
“My bank account is about gone,” she said Monday. “I don’t know what I am going to do.”