A search began after floodwaters swept two vehicles off a road near Laurel early March 20, according to an Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Law Enforcement news release.
At about 5 a.m., Franklin County 911 received a call from a witness who reported seeing headlights off the road and hearing calls for help coming from an area near the intersection of Sanes Creek and Tee Hill roads.
Responding authorities discovered the bridge over Sanes Creek had been partially washed away. An initial search located one vehicle, then a second one.
Responders recovered four bodies that morning and a fifth one around 3 p.m., according to a later news release. Search operations were suspended that night due to darkness. Operations resumed Saturday morning, March 21, around 9 a.m., when the sixth body was found.
“The search in Laurel has concluded,” said Indiana Conservation Officers in a Nixle emailed message March 21. “All subjects have been located. Thanks to all volunteers.”
The victims from one vehicle have been identified as Shawn Roberts, 47, and Burton Spurlock, 48, Laurel, according to a March 21 IDNR news release. The second vehicle’s victims have been identified as Felina Lewis, 35, Laurel, and three children, 13, 7 and 4. All were pronounced dead by the Franklin County coroner.
Agencies assisting at the scene were Indiana Conservation Officers, Franklin County fire and sheriff’s departments; Laurel and Metamora police and fire departments; and Franklin County EMS.
Franklin County Sheriff Pete Cates said, “We are extremely thankful for the overwhelming outpouring of support by all agencies involved, as well as the many community members who assisted in search efforts.”
The scene is still under investigation by Indiana Conservation Officers and the coroner’s office, according to the last release.