TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - Imagine being stuck in a tree with your best friend, fighting for your life.
"We're either going to stay in this tree and die, or we've got to go get help," flood victim Parker Ware said.
Imagine your car swept off the road by flood waters, into a flooded ditch, too far away for anybody to hear you shouting for help.
As your car slowly sinks into the cold, rushing water, a tree is your only safe haven.
For two Rossville men early Tuesday morning, this scenario was the frightening reality.
"We were out for six or seven hours just trying to get help, because we didn't want to get back in the water," Ware said.
Ware and Troy Holland stayed in the tree unsure of what to do.
They sat there soaked with temperatures in the teens and a wind chill of just seven degrees. Ware knew he had to do something.
"I knew that I had to either get in the water or both of us were just stuck there," Ware said. "So, I got into the water, swam about 500 feet. That probably took about a half hour just because it was so cold and my whole body hurt so bad."
Ware found the strength to walk barefoot on the gravel road to the nearest house about a mile away, fighting through the pain to get help.
"I could have been walking on glass or cotton, it wouldn't have made a difference," Ware said. "I couldn't feel a thing."
Ware had hypothermia and frost bite on his toes and feet.
After he reached a nearby house, the homeowner gave him warm clothes and coffee and called 911 to get help for his friend who was still stuck in the tree.
"My friend was still a mile away and I hadn't seen him in an hour, so I had no idea if he was alive or dead," Ware said.
Cutler Fire and Rescue responded and saved Holland, who was still clinging to the tree. His clothes were frozen to the trunk.
Parker is thankful to be alive and wants to remind others to, "Turn around, don't drown."
"If you see a flooded road don't. Just don't do it."
Both Holland and Ware were taken to IU Health Arnett Hospital where Holland was treated and released after a few hours.
Ware is expected to remain in the hospital for several more days.
Nurses say after he is released, Ware will have to go through supervision and therapy to walk again.
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