GARLAND, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – The Dallas County Medical Examiner identified the Rita Jo Vinson, 49, of Greenville as the woman who was swept away over the weekend. Vinson’s body was found in the creek where it happened Sunday afternoon.
Just an hour before, authorities say the water was three to five feet below the bridge. By 2:15 am, the water was one to two feet above. It was so high and fast that time ran out for the driver trapped on it.READ MORE: Family Battles Scarborough Renaissance Festival And Texas Law Over Sexual Assault On Fairgrounds
“When the fire department arrived there on the south side of the bridge, Vinson was on the north side in the water,” said Lt. Pedro Barineau with the Garland Police Department. “And so they could not safely reach her.”
Crews called rescue units to the north side to help, but, before they could arrive, Vinson’s Nissan Altima was swept into the creek. Around 7 a.m., her empty vehicle was discovered around 300 yards from the bridge.
“It hit me hard, ” said Jamie Lorenz, who has lived most of her life in this neighborhood. She said she’s never seen the water flood the bridge. “When I drive by on the bridge, I always notice that it gets higher, but I’m never worried that it’s going to actually go up to the bridge,” she said.READ MORE: Teen Jeremiah Tabb Arrested While In Summer School In Connection To Downtown Austin Shooting
The bridge has gates to stop people from driving through floodwaters, but authorities said they are manual – and, again, there wasn’t time.
“We wish there was a way more simple way and an actual automated system that can alert everything, and, all of a sudden, the gates close immediately, but that’s not realistic,” said Lt Barineau.
Lorenz said she’s learned from this tragedy to rely on her instincts and to use caution when it comes to water.
“It’s going to make me think, and I want all my friends and family to think again before they cross a bridge after heavy rain.”MORE NEWS: Heated Debate Over Leadership Positions During New Dallas Council's First Meeting
Police said this is another tragic reminder of how quickly water even a small amount of water can rise and carry away a vehicle – and also that it can be prevented by turning around.