FERGUSON, Louis Edward

Date of birth: 31 March 1934 Edinburgh, Johnson County, Indiana
Date of death: 22 June 1983, Bartholomew County, Indiana

SOURCE: Franklin Daily Journal, 23 June 1983

Edinburgh man drowns in gravel pit Wednesday
By BILL STROTHER
Journal Staff Writer
      An Edinburgh man drowned in a gravel pit west of the town Wednesday.
      The man, Louis E. Ferguson, 49, 402_ Morris St., died during a fishing
outing at Plover Pit just west of U.S. 31 at the Johnson-Bartholomew
County line.
      The pit is a state Department of Natural Resources fishing preserve.
      Bartholomew County Coroner Dr. Joseph Sheehy said today preliminary
autopsy tests indicate Ferguson’s blood-alcohol level was .25 percent when
he drowned.  A blood alcohol level of .10 percent or greater is the legal
basis for determining intoxication in Indiana.
      A man who was with Ferguson, Lewis F. Burton, 42, 902 S. Pleasant St.,
Edinburgh, was arrested at the gravel pit on a charge of public
intoxication.
      Sheehy said he still was awaiting the final autopsy report, but expected
to rule Ferguson died from accidental drowning with alcoholic intoxication
as a contributing cause.  He said Ferguson apparently stepped off an
underwater ledge into a deep part of the pit and drowned, “even though he
knew how to swim.”
      He said the fact that Ferguson was fully clothed and was wearing heavy
boots when he entered the water also could have been contributing factors
in his death.
      Divers from the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department and Edinburgh
Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service recovered Ferguson’s body about 3 p.m.
Wednesday, about an hour after a companion reported he had disappeared in
the water.
      Bartholomew County Sheriff Jim McKinney, in charge of the recovery
operation, said Burton admitted the pair had been drinking before Ferguson
entered the water.
      State Police, Indiana Conservation Officers and Edinburgh police assisted
in the rescue operation.
      Burton told investigators he and Ferguson were on the west shore of the
pit when Ferguson stepped into the water, possibly to free a snagged
fishing line.
      “He just walked out and went under,” Burton said.  Burton then waded a
short distance into the water in an attempt to rescue the other man but
failed to find him, he said.
      Burton told investigators he and Ferguson had started fishing on the east
side of the lake about 11 a.m., eventually working their way around to the
spot where the incident occurred.
      Divers said the sides of the pit are extremely steep and drop off rapidly
within six feet of shore, with the water reaching depths of more than 30
feet a few yards out.
      The divers found Ferguson’s body in eight to 10 feet of water about 10 to
15 feet from shore.

      Rescuers were in the water about 30 minutes before they found the victim.
They had just begun a systematic sweep of the area using a rope to guide
them because an initial search for the victim proved fruitless.
      Sheehy said there is no evidence to suggest anything other than accidental
drowning in the incident, but his final ruling would have to wait for the
autopsy report.
      Burton is being held in Bartholomew County jail under $500 bond.
      A funeral service for Ferguson will be held 11 a.m. Friday at Eskew
Funeral Home, Edinburgh, with the Rev. Albert Delbridge officiating.
Friends may call at the funeral home from 10 to 11 a.m. Friday.  Burial
will be at Rest Haven Cemetery, Edinburgh. 
      Survivors include four sons and two daughters; James Knue, Indianapolis;
Louis E. Ferguson, Jr., Farmington, Mo.; Bennie C. Ferguson, Huntsville,
Texas; John Lee Ferguson, Lakeview, Ohio; Christine Ferguson, Edinburgh,
and Kathleen Simmons, Greenwood.
      Other survivors include three brothers, Charles, Richard and David
Ferguson, all of Edinburgh; a sister, Elsie Ferguson, Orlando, Fla., and
seven grandchildren.
      Ferguson was born March 31, 1934, in Edinburgh, to Charles E. and Lena
Marie (Stout) Ferguson.  They preceded him in death.
      Ferguson worked at odd jobs in Edinburgh. 
Submitted by Mark Wirey