ENDLETON — A local man is being recognized this week for his efforts in saving a driver whose car ran off the road and went into a pond in northern Hancock County.
It’s a Christmas morning Evan Munden will never forget.
Munden, 22, was in the shower, getting ready to go to his family Christmas celebration, when his fiancee heard a crash outside their house on Ind. 9 near CR 1000N.
Kaci Dinger, 23, was in the living room when the noise made her run to the window. Outside, she saw a car in the pond by their house.
The noise she heard was the ice cracking as the car burst through the frozen top layer. And now, the car was starting to sink.
Dinger alerted Munden, then called 911.
Munden said he threw on clothes as quickly as he could, then ran outside to help the stranded motorist.
Eugene Dick was still inside the car, uninjured, but the water was rising. Dick had rolled down the passenger side window before the car’s electrical systems shorted out.
Several passers-by stopped, but no one was exactly sure what to do. It was about 15 degrees that morning, and the water was freezing, Munden said.
Help was on the way, but Dick’s car was going down fast.
Munden grabbed a tow chain from the back of his truck, handed one end to another good Samaritan who had stopped, then jumped in.
Dinger was amazed.
“I thought he was just gonna take it and like toss it out to the guy,” she said. “Well, he just decided to pretty much jump in the water.”
Dick had called out to Munden to stay out of the water, but Munden wasn’t listening.
“It was freezing, but I didn’t even think about it, to be honest with you,” Munden said. “That was my only way to get him out, I thought.”
As it turned out, time really was of the essence – Dick couldn’t swim.
Munden waded out into about 5 feet of water to reach the car.
“I basically handed him one end of the chain, grabbed him by the pants, … grabbed him out of the car,” he said.
They were able to scramble back to dry land. The two went into the house for a cup of coffee to warm up, realizing they were lucky.
The car was almost entirely submerged by the time emergency responders arrived.
Green Township volunteer firefighter Ronnie Mohr was one of those who responded to the scene.
The top of the car was just visible beneath the pond’s surface, he said.
Mohr applauded Munden’s quick thinking, saying without his efforts, the outcome could have been much different.
“I think without this guy stepping in, more than likely, it’d have been a fatality,” Mohr said.
The Greenfield Township Volunteer Fire Department has invited Munden to its annual appreciation dinner, scheduled for tonight.
Those who hear Munden’s story are calling him a hero.
He put others first when it mattered most, said Fire Chief Bob Holland.
“Just with no second thoughts jumped in there and did that,” he said.
The department is recognizing Munden with a certificate.
“There’s all kind of heroes out here, but most heroes are instantaneous,” Mohr said. “They don’t realize it’s coming.”