Jeep Ends Up In Barbee Channel After Driver Was Distracted By Squirrel

KCSD Press Release- Kosciusko County Sheriff's Department deputies and North Webster EMS & Fireman responded Saturday to a report of a vehicle that had driven off the bridge and into the water near the Barbee Landing on Barbee Lake Road.  Officers arrived shortly after the 5:23 p.m. call and discovered a white, 2000 Jeep Cherokee SUV had traveled into the south edge of the channel, landing on its side.

Initial investigation by sheriff's deputies determined that the driver, identified as Shelby Jewell Pontius, 18, Warsaw, had been driving northbound on the Barbee Lake Road. Pontius stated that her attention was distracted by a squirrel that had ran onto the roadway, and she drove off the pavement, then onto the bridge guardrail, eventually overturning into the channel.  Officers stated that an off-duty Cool Springs Fireman, identified as Nathan Stewart Maibauer, 24, Michigan City, had been fishing near the bridge.  Maibauer responded to the vehicle, entered into the water, and broke-out the rear window to assist Pontius out of the SUV.  Pontius refused medical treatment by North Webster medics.