Woman found dead after vehicle swept away by floodwaters in Union Co. has been identified

One dead after vehicle swept off road during flooding

UNION COUNTY, Ill. (KFVS) - A woman who died after being swept away by floodwaters has been identified.

The Union County Sheriffs Office and assisting agencies responded to a reported water rescue in Union County, Illinois on Sunday, June 16.

Crews searched for Judith Easterly, 59, of Anna, Ill., late into the night on Sunday and early on Monday, June 17.

Union County Coroner Phil Hileman said they found Easterly’s body around 7:15 a.m. on June 17.

Hileman said his deputy coroner was called to the area near where her car washed away.

County officials said this was likely flash flooding.

A man was able to escape, the woman was not
A man was able to escape, the woman was not (Source: Rob Foote)

There were multiple flash flood and thunderstorm warnings in Union County on Sunday.

“It’s hard on everybody, you know, because we wanted it to be a success story,” Union County Sheriff Scott Harvel said. “We wanted to find her alive and we didn’t.”

Harvel said the incident happened on Sunday around 6 p.m.

Harvel said Easterly’s and a man were in a vehicle in the area near the water rescue at State Forest Road and Walnut Tree Road.

The two were driving on a flooded road leading into a park, according to Harvel. The waters allegedly washed them into a close by creek.

“So we searched the area 'til about 10:30 last night,” the sheriff said. “The water was still very high there, so we suspended it about 10:30 last night and came back early this morning.”

At the time, Harvel said swift moving water on the road could have been as deep as 10 feet in parts.

He said Sunday’s thunderstorms made the road even more dangerous.

Both occupants were able to leave the vehicle while in the creek. The sheriff said the man was able to swim to safety but Easterly was not.

“It swept them about three-tenths of a mile where the vehicle came to rest in the creek; and they were trying to get out of it and they fell off the vehicle,” Sheriff Harvel said. “They actually tried to climb on top of the vehicle on the trunk area of the car.”

Several have asked on social media if they were married. Sheriff Harvel said they were not.

The vehicle was found by a bridge where the car was swept off the road.

The Union County EMA Director said fire crews, a rescue squad and an ambulance responded.

There was also a rescue earlier on Mountain Glen Road near Cobden.

The scene is clear at this time.

“It’s very important that people don’t try to drive in those conditions,” he said. “You know, wait. Wait 'til the water recedes or find a different route. And this is a clear example of why you shouldn’t drive through the water.”

The investigation is ongoing.

Copyright 2019 KFVS. All rights reserved.