PANDORA — Speaking at the monthly Putnam County Firemen's Association meeting, Sheriff Jim Beutler said it had been an unusual winter with a high number of water rescues in the county.Beutler gave recognition awards to law enforcement officers, and EMS and fire department volunteers who had been involved in rescues and recovery incidents in the last few months in the county. The sheriff said the county had four car-in-pond incidents, including a Tuesday incident near Rimer, and a man falling into a pond.“These individuals had to deal with some very adverse conditions,” Beutler said.The first recognition award was given to those involved in the recovery of Brianna Coon on Feb. 5. During this incident, a 911 call for help was eventually traced to a location north of Ottoville. After a Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper spotted skid marks into a pond a recovery operation was held.“This took all three legs of public safety,” the sheriff said. “Unfortunately we knew it was a recovery operation going in.” Coon's body was found in the water on what Beutler described as a “long and cold night.” He presented plaques to the Ottoville Fire Department, Ottoville EMS, Sgt. Brad Nelson and Deputy Mark Brecht.The rescue on Feb. 14 of Pandora resident Stan Newton was also recognized by the sheriff.“They were able to rescue the man through a cooperative effort,” Beutler said. Newton saw his dog struggling after falling through a thin layer of ice, telling his wife, Janice Newton, that he didn't think the dog could survive. Newton fell through and could not get back on top of the ice. Deputy Gary Smith was the first to reach the scene. He was able to use a ladder to bring Newton and the dog in closer, but then fell in himself. Newton was in the water between 20 and 30 minutes before responders could get him out. Although they were able to revive him, Newton died a few days later.The Pandora EMS, Pandora Fire Department, Sgt. Gary Smith with the Sheriff's Office, and Sgt. Eric Rayle with the Pandora Police Department were recognized for their work on this rescue. “In 2008 there were 975 ponds listed in Putnam County,” the sheriff said. “We have had a high incident rate of water rescues. I felt it was important to recognize all of these people who worked under very adverse conditions.”The most recent pond-car incident occurred Tuesday near Rimer, when the sheriff said a vehicle was westbound on state Route 189 near Rimer, dropped off the left side of the roadway, overcorrected and skidded across the road. The vehicle hit a wooden wagon and tree before coming to rest on its top in a pond around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.The driver of the vehicle, Kevin Wieging, of Delphos, was able to escape the vehicle and make his way to a nearby house. Unable to arouse the occupants of the house, he wrapped himself in a blanket and waited until after 5 a.m. when the occupants of the house discovered him in the garage and called law enforcement.
Water rescue efforts recognized in Putnam County