Indiana Conservation Officers are investigating an accident that happened Saturday morning at the Beaver Dam Lake public access boat ramp resulting in a 15-year-old Silver Lake teen narrowly escaping a submerged vehicle.
At about 10:40 a.m., Aubert Clevenger, 15, of Silver Lake, was attempting to back his uncle’s vehicle with an attached boat trailer down the ramp to launch the boat. David Swihart, 55, also of Silver Lake, was in the boat on the trailer and permitted his nephew, who was unlicensed, to back the boat trailer down the ramp. Investigating Indiana Conservation Officer Jon Cook determined Clevenger panicked due to his inexperience in operating a motor vehicle with a trailer attached. As the teen was backing the trailer, he pressed the gas pedal instead of the brake pedal, which caused the vehicle and trailer to accelerate into the lake and become submerged.
Clevenger had left the driver’s door open and was forced to jump from the vehicle as it began to sink. He then had to swim to shore as the vehicle sank. The vehicle ended up approximately 25 yards out into the lake with only the open back hatch door of the vehicle exposed. The Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department S.C.U.B.A. team recovered the vehicle.
No charges were filed against David Swihart. Indiana Conservation Officers would like to remind boaters that all Indiana public access boat ramps require the operators of the vehicles utilizing the ramps to be licensed drivers. Backing trailers is also an activity that should be practiced until the operator becomes very comfortable with the procedure.