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4 People Are Trapped in Submerged Car

Swift current keeps rescuers from reaching woman, three children.

June 07, 2003|From Associated Press

JACKSON, Calif. — A woman and three small children were trapped in a submerged car that drove off a road and into a river Friday afternoon, but the fast-moving, deep water prevented authorities from attempting a rescue, a Sheriff's Department dispatcher said.

The car was filled with water at least up to its windows, and the rescue teams who stood helplessly on the banks of the Mokelumne River could not see the confined passengers inside, said Margaret Blair, a dispatcher for the Amador County Sheriff's Department.

But they believe the woman and three children were trapped based on the statements of a man who said he was in the car when it went into the water, but managed to escape, Blair said. The man also told authorities that the vehicle continued traveling downstream once he got out.

Blair said rescue teams from the California Highway Patrol and the Sheriff's Department located the partially sunken vehicle about a mile away, "hung up on some rocks" in the icy water.

"They are trying to figure out a way to get out to the vehicle," Blair said. "The water is running too swift and it's too deep. We have to worry about the safety of our rescue crew too."

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has been asked to cut the flow on some dams to make the river easier to access, Blair said.

In the meantime, authorities were trying to anchor the vehicle with a tow truck cable.

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