A 49-year-old Spokane woman was found dead in her submerged car in the Columbia River at Vantage, Wash., on Monday morning, an incident that was still puzzling investigators today.
Sheriff Gene Dana of Kittitas County said foul play was not suspected in the death of Teresa Lynn Sampson.
A motorist driving across the Interstate 90 bridge at Vantage spotted the woman’s white, four-door Toyota submerged off the end of a boat ramp on the bank of the Columbia River at the northwest end of the bridge at 8:45 a.m.
A diver was sent to the scene, and discovered the woman’s body inside the car with the doors locked, Dana said. Officials initially thought the car might have been stolen and dumped there, but were surprised to discover a body.
“It appeared the vehicle had been in the water a few hours,” Dana said.
The car was pointed toward the west, but Dana said that it likely floated, turned and drifted with the current toward the bridge before sinking. A small portion of the top of the car remained out of the water.
It was not known whether the woman mistakenly drove into the water after leaving the freeway, the sheriff said.
A blood toxicology test was being performed to determine if alcohol or drugs had been used by the woman. Investigators were also checking with people who knew the woman to learn more about her.