Tuesday, March 4, 1997
Unforgiving waters
claim 3 Ohioans

Severe flooding claimed at least five lives
in the Tristate during the weekend.
Other residents are missing.
Here are the stories
of three who died:

BY B.G. GREGG
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Hetterick
Debra Hetterick
The icy water of Ohio Brush Creek was rising when John Edward Hetterick pulled his 1996 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera out of his friend's driveway on to Lawshe Road in Adams County late Saturday night.

Less than a mile down the road, he and his wife, Debra, reached a dip where the creek had spilled from its banks, covering the road. The Felicity couple decided to turn around and spend the night at their friend's rather than fight their way home to Felicity and their two children, Zachary, 16, and Ashley, 11.

''By the time we turned around to go back, and we're only talking a difference of a half-mile here, the water had already crossed the road we had just traveled,'' said Mr. Hetterick, known as Ed to his family and friends.

They tried to cross the water, but the car stalled. Mr. Hetterick, 39, flashed his headlights at cars traveling on Ohio 32. Someone noticed, and a rescue crew arrived shortly.

By that time, the cold water was halfway up the doors of the car. A crew tried to get a rescue line to the couple, but the currents were too strong.

''One guy with a cable got to maybe 150 feet from us, but then he turned and went back,'' said Mr. Hetterick, a Cincinnati Gas & Electric employee. ''That's when I said we better get in the tree.''

She held the nearby tree, and he encircled her with his arms, hugging the tree and his wife of 19 years.

''The water was so cold, she was complaining about cramps in her legs,'' he said. ''I know she had them, because I did, too.''

More than an hour into their ordeal, the rising water was reaching above their shoulders. Mr. Hetterick decided he would push his wife higher into the tree in the hope it would buy them more time.

''She slipped and I just couldn't grab her,'' he said, his voice breaking. ''She slipped and she was gone.''

More than an hour later, the rescue workers finally reached Mr. Hetterick. His wife's body was found a short time later, in a tree line about 500 feet away.

Just last week, Mrs. Hetterick had resigned from her part-time job as a teller at the New Richmond National Bank.

She planned to spend more time volunteering at Felicity's Church of Christ and Felicity's elementary and high school, as well as on her hobby: collecting Norman Rockwell memorabilia, baskets and knickknacks.

''She was going to stay at home for a while and then start something different,'' her husband said. ''But it didn't work out that way.''

The couple had planned their first cruise later this year.

''She loved the ocean,'' Mr. Hetterick said. ''We had waited because we were going to take the kids with us so we could all enjoy it.''

Besides her husband and children, Mrs. Hetterick is survived by her parents, Art and Betty Tudor of Felicity, and two brothers and two sisters. Her funeral is 11 a.m. Wednesday in Felicity's Church of Christ.

A few hours after Mrs. Hetterick was swept away, Jason Copple and two friends were driving on Ohio 763 near Eagle Creek in Brown County.

High water quickly surrounded the car, stalling it and stranding the friends. Mr. Copple, 25, of Decatur, decided to walk for help.

As he climbed from the car, the strong current swept him under. Rescue workers found his body several hours later.

The Brown County Sheriff's Office is releasing few details of the drowning, including the name of Mr. Copple's friends. Mr. Copple's mother, Joyce Copple, said Monday afternoon that she had not been filled in on the details surrounding her son's death.

She said her son worked odd construction jobs and liked to play basketball. He graduated from Eastern Brown High School.

''He was a good person,'' she said. ''He'd help anybody who needed help.''

Mr. Copple is also survived by his father, Jerry, and brother, Michael. His funeral is 2 p.m. Wednesday in Knechtly-Potts Funeral Home in Russellville.

Saturday morning's rain and rising Shawnee Creek looked like an opportunity for fun to 16-year-old Jason Hall.

The Blue Creek teen hopped on his four-wheel, all-terrain vehicle and headed outside to splash through the mud and water.

According to a neighbor, he stopped on top of a culvert, where water rushed around him. Suddenly, the current strengthened, pulling him toward the creek.

''The neighbor said he caught on to a bush and grabbed a limb, but the limb broke and he was swept into the water,'' said Jason's grandfather, Leslie Hall of Blue Creek.

Because of the high water, rescue workers were unable to find the boy until late Saturday. Jason's parents have been unable to get to the funeral home to make arrangements.

Jason was a member of the Future Farmers of America at West Union High School.

His grandmother, JoAnn Hall, said Jason never missed a Sunday service or Wednesday night prayer service at Shawnee Community Church.

He also is survived by his father and mother, Billy Wayne and Diane Hall, and two sisters, Joanie, 19, and Amanda, 17.

FLOOD STORIES
FLOOD PHOTOS