NEWTON — An Olney woman and her children were rescued from flood water Saturday by Jasper County and City of Newton authorities.

Johanna L. Dixon, 27, was driving a vehicle with passengers Chad M. Strong, 26, of Olney and her children, ages 6 and 8, when the vehicle came to the top of the levy at the Embarras River bridge, known as the Yager bridge, in Ste. Marie Township and was swept off the road by swift water, according to the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department.

Dixon had attempted to stop when she saw the water, but the vehicle skid into the water, Sheriff Ed Francis said.

Francis said the department and the Newton Police Department were notified by a witness who had driven near the scene and saw that they were trapped.

Jasper law enforcement received the calls shortly after 4 p.m. and when they arrived at the scene, Strong had swum to safety but Dixon and the children were in the water, clinging to trees. The vehicle, a white Ford station wagon, was submerged in the water.

Dixon and the children had probably been in the water for about a half an hour before officers arrived, Francis said.

Officers entered the extremely cold, swift water and with the assistance of the witnesses who had gone to a nearby house and returned with a garden hose, used the garden hose to pull the children to safety. The rescue efforts took about 15 to 30 minutes.

Dixon also was rescued, and she and the children were taken to Richland Memorial Hospital, Olney, by the Jasper County Ambulance for treatment of hypothermia. Their conditions are unknown because the hospital doesn’t release patient information.

“They were very, very cold,” Francis said.

The flooding occurred because of the heavy and lengthy precipitation last Thursday. Francis said people should never attempt to cross flooded roadways as it’s difficult to tell how deep the water is and how fast the water’s moving.

The water doesn’t have to be too deep to cause problems with vehicles, he said.

The sheriff’s department also received assistance from Wade Fire Protection District and Jasper County Emergency Management Agency.

Alta Mayhugh can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 131 or


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