Niles man survives, thanks to passerby

Published 9:58 pm Friday, August 6, 2004

By Staff
NILES - Thanks to a Buchanan man, Niles' Jake Kepler is alive today, said Berrien County Sheriff's Department officials.
The Niles man was apparently trapped in his car, upside down, in a cornfield for 41 hours when Greg Sebasty of Buchanan happened by and noticed something was strange, deputies reported.
At about 10:47 a.m. on Thursday, emergency units were called to the scene of an apparent rollover accident at Sage and Curran roads in Bertrand Township.
When they arrived, they found a 1995 dodge Neon upside down in a cornfield. Still inside the car was Jake Kepler, 19, of Niles, who was semi-conscious.
Sheriff's deputies said Kepler was driving northbound on Sage Road when he apparently lost control of his vehicle near the Curran Road intersection.
Kepler's vehicle flipped over several time, coming to rest on its roof.
During their investigation, deputies discovered Kepler's crash occurred at about 6:40 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 3.
Kepler had been trapped inside his vehicle since that time. Deputies said he was still seatbelted in at the time he was located.
Kepler's vehicle came to a rest well off the roadway in a field where corn was more than 8 feet tall, making it nearly impossible to see the car from the roadway.
Kepler had been reported missing on Wednesday by his family.
Deputies said the rear wheel wells still contained a large amount of water from the thunderstorm, which occurred during the evening on Tuesday.
Kepler was transported by SMCAS ambulance to Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Ind., where he was in intensive care this morning. Deputies said Kepler possibly suffered internal injuries.
The incident remains under investigation.
Sheriff's deputies and SMCAS workers were assisted by troopers from Michigan State Police Post 53 in Niles and Berrien Township firefighters.