NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — The investigation into the death of a man from Elwood continues after his body was recovered from the White River in Hamilton County on Sunday.
According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, first responders were called to the area just after 8 p.m. near the White River and State Road 13 after a man was found submerged in water.
The victim has been identified as 37-year-old Charles Bond, or Chase, as his loved ones call him. The DNR said Bond’s body was located by a kayaker and then recovered by first responders.
DNR Conservation Officer Joe Julian said the initial investigation showed that Bond was jumping from an elevated platform along the river and struck an unknown object. He did not resurface.
“There’s a rope swing on one tree and another tree has basically what’s a homemade platform for jumping in the water,” said Julian.
These are some of the calls first responders say they dread the most.
“It’s the worst part of our job as officers and other first responders as well,” said Julian. “It is our job, it is our duty, but that tragedy not only affects those families, it affects us as well.”
Julian said their responsibility is to be as comforting as possible during any tragedy, and that they hope by providing some tips on how to stay safe while on the water, that they may prevent one more this summer.
When it comes to bodies of water, Julian said a number of factors can impact how safe a body of water is to navigate — whether it be by boat, float, or even swimming.
“Especially in rivers, there’s always unknowns with the river,” he said. “Any significant amount of rain can bring the river up and dirty it to the point where you don’t know where rocks, branches, logs and areas where those dangers lie.”
Julian said if you are planning to swim in a body of water, it’s always important to know where you’re going and any inherent risks along the way such as dams or shallow water in recreational areas.
“Any time you’re going off of a rope swing or a platform, whether it’s into a lake or into a river, those bodies of water change at all times, so you don’t know exactly what’s under there.”
“It may be more safe to go into the water first and feel around and see if it is safe, but it’s always good practice to have a slow entry to know what you’re getting yourself into,” said Julian.
He said the key phrase they preach is, “know before you go.”
Julian said, even if you are not going on a boat, you should always have a life jacket with you.
“Tragedy can strike at any time,” he said.
He also said having a float plan is essential to making sure someone knows where you are, and where you plan to be.
“Tell somewhere where you’re going and when you should be back. That could be as simple as a call or text, say if I’m not home by this point in time, give me a call, give me a text,” he explained.
Another factor that Julian said may impact the depth or hazards of a river would be the stage the river is in.
He said it’s important to do your research and if a river is at flood stage, it’s crucial to stay off.
“Rainfall, it doesn’t take a lot to bring that river up higher and that poses even more risk to you as a canoer, a kayaker, paddling along the river.”
You can never be too prepared.
The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, White River Township Fire Department and the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office assisted DNR in the response.
The incident remains under investigation. The Hamilton County Coroner’s Office conducted an autopsy, but the results and Bond’s cause of death are still pending.