Coroner: Hunter died of hypothermia

Friday, January 22, 2016

A man who fell through a hole in some ice in Scott County earlier this week died of hypothermia, Scott County Coroner Scott Amick said Thursday.

The search team found a hole in the ice where Zack Johnston, 23, of Scott County fell, Amick said.

The water in the lake area was three feet deep but immediately saturated Johnston’s clothing, Amick said.

He said hypothermia set in quickly and could have killed Johnston in about 15 minutes.

Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter said evidence suggests Johnston had stripped off pieces of clothing that were wet, including waders the search team found later, and already was suffering from hypothermia as he was trying to make it back to his truck.

Taking the shortest route and possibly already suffering confusion from the extreme cold, Johnston risked walking in a dangerous area and fell through the ice, Walter said.

The Scott County Sheriff’s Department led a search for Johnston from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the wooded area near the intersection of Nash Road and County Road 303 where Johnston’s truck was found.

Johnston had been gone since 2 p.m. Tuesday, when he left to go duck hunting, his mother, Marsha Johnston, said.

Amick said an exact time of death cannot be determined, so 4:30 p.m. Wednesday will serve as the official time.

“When you’re dealing with extreme cold, there’s no way to backtrack,” Amick said. “We don’t suspect any foul play. It’s a very unfortunate, tragic accident.”

Amick said there will not be an autopsy.

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