On the evening of November 15, around 5:50 p.m., the day took an unexpected turn for off-duty Indiana State Trooper Jacob Bill.
Bill was just outside of Winona Lake, near the intersection of County Road 325 East and Wooster Road when he saw an officer with the Winona Lake Police Department drive through the intersection with his lights and siren on. Bill was off-duty but in his marked Indiana State Police car so he went to see if he could help the Winona Lake officer.
Bill and the responding Winona Lake officer stopped just past the intersection and ran to a retention pond where several adults were yelling, “Over here.” A child was seen approximately 25 yards out in the water that had apparently fallen through the thin ice.
Bill ran into the water and swam out to the child. Bill was able to grab him by the collar and attempted to get him to shore. As Bill got closer to shore he got caught up in the broken ice so Winona Lake Officer Dave Swain entered the water to help Bill and the child. Winona Lake Police Officer Sgt. Joe Bumbaugh was then able to help from shore and get all three out of the water.
Once out of the water, the child was taken to Sgt. Bumbaugh’s truck to warm up and was then transferred to an ambulance and transported to a local hospital.
The boy, determined to be 11 years old, was treated and released from the hospital. Another child that had also been playing on the ice was able to get out of the water on his own prior to officers arriving.
Trooper Jacob Bill said, “I was just glad that I was in the right place at the right time.”