News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

February 7, 2008

NEW: 3 bodies found in flooded quarry as swollen rivers crest

KENTLAND — A crane pulled a car with three bodies inside from a flooded quarry on Thursday, three days after investigators believe it crashed into the normally dry pit in northwestern Indiana.

The bodies of two women and a man were found inside the car after a two-hour operation to pull it from about 55 feet of water. State Conservation Officer Matt Tholen said the car likely plunged into the quarry on Monday, when the area was blanketed with heavy fog that police blamed in crashes that killed three others.

The discovery of the bodies came as rivers crested Thursday in many flooded areas across much of northern Indiana, although forecasters believe it could be a week or more before the water fully recedes.

The Tippecanoe River was down nearly 2 feet from the major flood stage of 15 feet it reached on Wednesday about 20 miles north of Lafayette. The same stretch of river saw major flooding last month.

Several state highways remained closed at spots in northern Indiana after up to 3 inches of rain this week combined with melting snow to flood several areas. Fort Wayne had many streets under water, but officials there called off their request for volunteers to help fill sandbags.

Floodwaters from the Wabash River surrounded several properties in the Lafayette area, where National Weather Service hydrologist Al Shipe said the river was expected to crest on Thursday. As that crest moves downstream, more flooding was expected between Lafayette and Terre Haute.

“There will be a lot of roads under water and some agricultural levees are going to overtopped,” Shipe said.

In Kentland, investigators believe the car ended up in the quarry about 40 miles northwest of Lafayette after the driver did not see a stop sign, causing the car to go through the intersection and crash through a chain-link fence gate and a guardrail before falling into the water.

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