INDIANAPOLIS. (WISH) — A 33-year-old Indianapolis man died Sunday afternoon after jumping from a pontoon rental and into Geist Reservoir for a swim, said a conservation officer with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Vincent Patton and another person had decided to cool off, said Officer John Gano. Both jumped into the reservoir without a life jacket. Only one of the swimmers surfaced, and people aboard the pontoon quickly realized Patton was in danger; two of them jumped into the water to try and help.
Witnesses told investigators that Patton was attempting to swim back to a boat after retrieving a clothing item.
“Basically, he just disappeared,” the long-time conversation officer said in a phone interview with News 8.
A 911 call at 2:40 p.m. Sunday sent rescuers from Fishers Fire Department to the Geist Marina, 11695 Fall Creek Road, in Fishers. The dive team recovered Patton’s body just after 3:20 p.m. at a spot on the reservoir in Indianapolis just south of the Hamilton County border. That portion of the reservoir is from 15 to 20 feet deep, Gano said.
Patton was taken to IU Health Saxony Hospital in Fishers, where he was pronounced dead.
Gano said the pontoon was outfitted with more than enough life jackets for the people on the pontoon, but life jackets are not required to be worn in Indiana. The boat was rented from Marina Limited Partnership.
Members of the Indianapolis Sailing Club were having a Sunday afternoon race on the reservoir, Gano said. The organization based on Geist provided manpower and buoys that greatly assisted the divers. A Fishers Fire Department spokesman said witnesses helped to mark an area they believed the Patton was last seen and gave divers a starting point for their search.
Capt. John Mehling, the public educator with Fishers Fire Department, said in a media alert, “Two safety messages for boaters is to always have a life vest with you in the water, especially in water you can’t see in. Second, whenever you see an emergency boat in the water, stay far away from their location.”