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Woman suffers fatal heart attack at Patoka during holiday weekend

September 11, 2013
The death of a Columbus woman that occurred at Patoka Lake over the Labor Day weekend is being investigated by Indiana Conservation officers.

The Crawford County Dispatch Center received a 911 call on Sunday, Sept. 1, informing rescue workers that a woman was unresponsive on a boat in the Sycamore Creek area of the reservoir.

The woman was identified as Patti Hoskins-Owens, 55. Hoskins-Owens was out swimming on a raft away from the boat when she yelled for assistance to return to the boat due to pain. When she returned to the water craft, she became unresponsive.

Three registered nurses who were spending the day on Patoka Lake in the immediate area swam to the victim's boat and began CPR.

Brittney Barnickle, of Lanesville; Laura Whitfill, of Shepherdsville, Ky.; and Sheila Huffman, of Boonville, continued CPR until additional medical units arrived.

Hoskins-Owens was transported by an Indiana Conservation Officer to the Little Patoka Boat Ramp and was then flown by Air Methods to Harrison County Hospital in Corydon, where she was later pronounced dead.

ICO Jeffrey Milner said the preliminary autopsy reports revealed Hoskins-Owens suffered an acute heart event (heart attack); however, they are still waiting on the toxicology report before the confirmation is official.

Milner, who was the responding ICO, said he was impressed with the response from bystanders and the level of care they provided the victim.

"Three different women were on the water who were nurses," he said. "They all responded immediately, and the three nurses were all strangers to each other."

Indiana Conservation Officers stress the importance of practicing water safety during all outings near a body of water.

"She experienced pain while she was on a float away from the boat even though she was on the boat when she collapsed," Milner said. "If that happens to someone and they aren't wearing a life jacket and they have a heart attack in the water, they could drown."

According to the United States Coast Guard website, all recreational boats must carry one wearable life jacket for each person aboard and any boat 16 feet or longer, with the exception of canoes and kayaks, must also carry one throwable life jacket.

In order to meet standard safety measures, all life jackets must be Coast Guard approved, in good and serviceable condition, and the appropriate size for the intended user.

Indiana Conservation Officers were assisted at the scene by Crawford County EMS, English Volunteer Fire Department and Air Methods.

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