Man found in submerged van ID’d

HUNTERTOWN, Ind. (WANE) – The man who died after he apparently drove a van into a pond early Thursday morning has been identified by the Allen County Coroner’s Office as Elijah M. Tanner, 32, of Fort Wayne. Investigators still don’t know what caused his death.

Emergency responders received a 911 call shortly after midnight from a woman who said she was following Tanner, a co-worker of hers, and she watched the van as it drove into the pond, according to Allen County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Corporal Jeremy Tinkel.

The crash happened on State Road 3 just north of Hathaway Road in front of the Resurrection Lutheran Church.

Investigators said the woman told them she was following the van when it suddenly jerked left, crossed the median, and then the northbound lanes of traffic. The woman then told police the van went over a small ditch and into the water.

The Huntertown Fire Department and Fort Wayne Fire Department Water Rescue Team helped at the scene of a van that crashed into a pond early Thursday morning.
The Huntertown Fire Department and Fort Wayne Fire Department Water Rescue Team helped at the scene of a van that crashed into a pond early Thursday morning.

The van was almost totally submerged in water when first responders arrived. Only the back right corner and very top of the van could be seen above water.

Tinkel said water rescue crews were able to get the Tanner out, but he had likely been underwater for approximately 15 minutes.

Paramedics rushed the Tanner to the hospital in critical condition, but he was later pronounced dead by hospital staff.

The van included markings for “The Cleaning Company,” which matches the logo for a janitorial and floor cleaning services company based in Fort Wayne on Transportation Drive.

Tinkel said investigators will work to reconstruct the crash. At this time, it’s unknown if alcohol or drugs played a factor. Investigators will also try and determine if a medical condition might have contributed to the crash. There did not appear to be skid marks on either side of the road.

The van narrowly missed two utility poles near the pond.

Divers determined after a search of the pond that no other people were in the van.

The Fort Wayne Fire Department Water Rescue Team, Huntertown Fire Department, TRAA, and Allen County Sheriff’s Department assisted at the scene.

Tinkel said the Parkview Samaritan Helicopter was initially paged but later grounded after the man was pulled from the van. A FWPD officer escorted a TRAA ambulance from the scene to the hospital.