GOSPORT, Ind. (WISH) -The bodies of a Paragon mother and son were recovered Saturday, several hours after they went missing. Indiana Conservation Officers says Jana Payton, 24, and her son Bronson Liggett, 5, both went missing around 1:45 a.m. Saturday morning when the vehicle they were in was swept away by flood waters.
The driver of the vehicle, who DNR officials identify as Payton’s best friend, was driving on Moon Road in Monroe County when they unknowingly drove into the water.
“They were actually lost, they were trying to get back into Morgan County,” says Indiana Conservation Officer, Angela Goldman. “The roads they were trying to take were flooded out, so they were on some new roads trying to make their way back home and were just simply unfamiliar with their surroundings.”
Goldman says the driver told officials she immediately put the vehicle into reverse, but the water was so swift, it carried the vehicle into the flood waters. The driver described that when the water reached their chests, she swam for help, leaving Payton and Liggett to climb to the top of the vehicle. Neither Payton nor Liggett knew how to swim.
“The driver was able to swim back to shore and call for help,” says Goldman. “But when she got back to the car the friend and the friend’s son were missing.”
Officers searched the area for hours, beginning at first light Saturday morning. Around 4:20 p.m., Liggett’s body was found in the flood waters about 100 yards from the vehicle. Payton’s body was found nearby shortly after, around 4:40 p.m. The vehicle had drifted about 200 yards from its original location.
Autopsies are scheduled for Sunday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. for Liggett and Payton. Conservation Officers expect it to confirm their belief
Officials say Moon Road did not have a sign signifying high water because it is so infrequently traveled.
“We’re in a very very rural portion of the county and this particular road is just not traveled by anybody but the residents,” says Goldman.
Payton leaves behind an 8-year-old son who officials tell us is with his grandfather.