Local News

Witness: Woman tried to thwart rescue after driving car into Jordan Lake

Posted May 19, 2016 4:28 p.m. EDT
Updated May 26, 2016 6:25 p.m. EDT

— A woman who drove her car into Jordan Lake last weekend with her 5-year-old son inside refused help and even tried to stop a rescue attempt as the car sank, a witness said Thursday.

The witness said she and her family had just launched their pontoon boat from Seaforth Boat Ramp, off U.S. Highway 64, on Saturday morning when they saw a car go down one of the ramps and into the water.

The family rushed to the sinking car to help, but they quickly realized the woman inside didn't want any help, said the witness, who asked not to be identified.

"My husband begged her to give him the child," the witness said. "The lady closed the sunroof on my husband's hand because he was trying to grab the child."

The family then rammed the car with the pontoon boat to push it closer to the shore and to break open a window, and they pulled the woman and the boy out of the submerged car.

The mother and child were safely on land when first responders arrived at the boat ramp. They were taken to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, but their conditions aren't known.

Jordan Lake park rangers stated in an incident report that the woman repeatedly said she was trying to save her son and demanded that people remove their sunglasses so she could see their eyes.

Rangers recovered papers from the car that suggested the woman had a history of mental illness, according to the incident report, and vodka bottles also floated out of the car as it was pulled from the lake.

The incident report quoted a man who was nearby at the time that the car was traveling so fast as it headed toward the water that it was airborne over much of the boat ramp.

A note was found in some nearby restrooms that stated, "I know who I am now. I know what they plan to do with (name redacted). I cannot let that happen. This is the best I can do for (name redacted). I will always love him."

The State Bureau of Investigation and the state Division of Parks & Recreation are investigating the incident. No charges have been filed.