By Mike Perleberg
(Ripley County, Ind.) - Quick thinking by a friend may have saved five lives in Ripley County on Saturday evening.
David Mullikan, 36, of Napoleon, was off-roading with four passengers – two of them juveniles – in a Jeep on property along West County Road 925 North in northeastern Ripley County. Mullikan tried to navigate the Jeep across a small pond, which caused the jeep’s exhaust to become submerged, said Ripley County Sheriff Tom Grills.
The carbon monoxide from the exhaust then began to blow into the cabin, where all the windows were rolled up.
A friend in a second jeep, Ian Meyer, was taking pictures of Mullikan driving through the water. He noticed something was wrong and rushed to help, assisting all five occupants in the exhaust-filled Jeep to shore.
"It happened so fast, there was nothing we could do; we were just thankful a friend, Ian Meyer, was in the vehicle behind us and noticed something was wrong while he was taking a picture of us being stuck. He ran to us, helping us out to the bank trying to get us to wake up and stay awake,” said Mullikan.
Two of the victims were transported to Margaret Mary Health in Batesville. The other three refused treatment. The condition of the two hospitalized victims was not known by the sheriff’s office.
Grills commended Meyer, of Osgood, for his quick action.
“His response removed the occupants from a far worse outcome,” the sheriff said.
Grills warns off-roaders that the exhaust to their vehicles can become clogged or blocked, leading to the type of incident seen Saturday on that farm.
The Ripley County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident and found that neither alcohol nor any other illegal behavior were factors in the incident. Deputies were assisted at the scene by Napoleon first responders, Napoleon Fire, Medic 17 and 18, EMS 10, and Rescue 69.