MUNCIE — Four Muncie and two Ball State University police officers are being labeled as heroes after they saved a man whose vehicle had driven off the roadway, went airborne and landed upside down in the middle of the freezing White River early Monday.
Jordan Allan Knox, 25, was listed in critical condition Monday afternoon at IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, where he was taken by medical helicopter after the incident, which was reported about 12:48 a.m. Monday in the 1000 block of West Main Street in Muncie.
Muncie police Sgt. Bruce Qualls said Knox was driving his 2002 Volvo westbound on Main Street when he tried, unsuccessfully, to “straighten out the curb.” Instead of continuing on Main Street — which, at that point, curves into West Jackson Street — Knox’s vehicle continued westbound, where it took about a 40-foot drop down an embankment, went through some trees and landed, upside down, “halfway across the river.”
Qualls said a neighbor heard the crash and immediately called 911. Muncie police Sgt. Jay Turner said he was about a block and a half away when he heard the call and rushed to the area, where he saw the vehicle upside down in the water.
“There were two ladies standing out in the road yelling and crying that the car flipped and nobody got out,” Turner recalled Monday afternoon. “Another bystander went into the water and got about knee deep but said it was too cold.”
Turner and Muncie police Lt. Al Williams then ditched their gun belts and went into the water — temperatures at that time were about 20 degrees — and found an unconscious and submerged Knox trapped in the vehicle. The officers used a knife to cut Knox free from his seat belt. Once free, Turner pulled Knox face up to the banks of the river, where Muncie police officer Michael Fuller and BSU Cpl. Craig Hodson assisted Turner in CPR efforts on Knox, who at that time had no vital signs.
“After about a minute of CPR, water started coming out (of Knox),” Turner said. “He started moaning and kind of groaning and breathing. … It was a phenomenal thing to see him coming around.”
Williams, Muncie patrolman Tyler Swain and BSU patrolman Jordan Brand, meanwhile, continued searching for other possible occupants before determining the rest of the vehicle was empty.
The Muncie Fire Department and Delaware County EMS also assisted at the scene.
Muncie police Chief Steve Stewart commended the acts of the six police officers who risked their own lives to go into the freezing waters and save a drowning Knox.
“They did a heroic job in rescuing this man,” Stewart said. “I couldn’t be more proud of what they did in saving this man’s life.”
Qualls said the cause of the crash remained under investigation Monday afternoon. The sergeant — who supervises MPD’s traffic division — said officers were “pretty certain on contributing circumstances” however.
“It was a combination of two things,” Qualls said. “Speed and alcohol.”
According to court records, Knox last September was charged in Muncie City Court with driving while intoxicated.
In January, Knox entered into a deferment program with the prosecutor’s office, which would allow the charge to be dropped after a set period of no further violations.
Knox has no other charges or convictions, records indicate.
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