Man chases after dog, gets rescued from Elkhart River

Local News

Butch VanHook is counting his blessings. 

“Yes. Yes I am.”

He knows what happened Thursday afternoon could have been tragic. 

“I should have just waited and hoped they got out here to help the dog.”

It was around noon on Thursday that Butch’s German Shepherd, Fluke, fell in the Elkhart River behind their home on W. U.S. 6. While Butch’s wife called 911, he tried getting Fluke out, but he fell in. 

“I kind of climbed onto the ice on my hands and knees, got to where she was, got a hold of her feet, went to pull her up and I went in head first,” Butch said.

Butch managed to swim over to a limb and held on. There he was able to get Fluke out of the water, but he was stuck. It wasn’t until a firefighter went out onto the ice and threw a harness over Butch that he was able to get out. 

“When I was holding onto the limb I thought this ain’t the way to go. This is not the time. And it wasn’t, luckily.”

Butch’s wife, Samantha, also feels lucky – especially knowing a father and his two teenage daughters died in the river just a few miles away on Monday.

“Very blessed, yeah. I didn’t lose either of them and yeah. I couldn’t think straight yesterday, yes,” said Samantha.

Butch was flown to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne after being pulled from the water. He said he and his dog are doing fine. 

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