Autopsy results released on woman found dead in vehicle swept away in flash flooding
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ill. (KFVS) - Autopsy results on a woman found dead in a vehicle that was swept away during flash flooding have been released.
According to Jefferson County Coroner Roger Hayse, an autopsy on Monday, July 19 shows 25-year-old Shelby L. Mitchell died from accidental drowning.
Deputies, first responders and search and rescue dive teams spent much of the weekend searching for a Mitchell after she went missing early Saturday morning.
According to Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Bullard, Sr., Mitchell was driving on Panzier Lane, just south of Route 15 and southwest of Woodlawn, when her car was swept away by flash flash flooding from the Rayse Creek at approximately 2:15 a.m.
She called her family to them her gold 2011 Hyundai was in flood waters before the call was disconnected.
Deputies were called to the area prone to flash flooding at approximately 2:29 a.m.
When they arrived, Mitchell’s family was already on the scene and searching for her car.
Crews from the Woodlawn and Waltonville Fire Departments were also called to the scene to help in the search efforts.
At this time, Sheriff Bullard said the area was severely flooded due to heavy rainfall and the creek was moving swiftly.
He reports at least 7.5 inches of heavy rain fell in this area and much of southwest Jefferson County.
Sonar teams with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) were called in to search the creek by boat in hopes of locating the car.
Illinois State Police also responded by using a plane to see if they could spot the car from the air and drones were also used to search along the swollen creeks path.
Sheriff Bullard said an IDNR team’s sonar pinged on area to the east where depths reached 13 to 17 feet.
Crews believed Mitchell’s car was in this area.
Search and rescue dive teams from Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) 68 and the Benton Fire Department were then called to the scene.
After surveying the conditions, dive teams said the creek was too hazardous for search and recovery efforts.
They said they could resume their efforts once creek levels receded and the current slowed down.
The decision was made to suspend the search around the lunchtime hour.
The Dive Team Commander was consulted later in the evening, but the situation remained unchanged.
“This was a huge disappointment to suspend, especially for family,” said Bullard. “We wish it could have been different.”
The sheriff made sure there were deputies on the scene throughout the day, overnight and the next day.
A volunteer with a drone came to the search area at 8 a.m. on Sunday and let deputies use it to flyover the area where sonar pinged.
Deputies were able to spot the car and they called dive teams.
The sheriff’s office was able to confirm that it was Mitchell’s vehicle and her body was inside.
Sheriff Bullard said this was not the outcome he and crews involved in the search were hoping for and their hearts go out to Mitchell’s loved ones.
He is also extremely thankful for all the volunteers and first responders who helped in the search.
Copyright 2021 KFVS. All rights reserved.