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Woman dies when SUV ends up in Hayden Lake

Kootenai County sheriff’s officials Friday said alcohol appears to have been a contributing factor in the apparent drowning death of a woman who passed by barriers and drove into Hayden Lake on Thursday night.

The woman was identified as Jennifer M. Gonzalez, 34, of Hayden.

A nearby resident called 911 at 9:55 p.m. and reported hearing a crash at the Honeysuckle Beach boat ramp, a place that has become possibly the deadliest spot in the Inland Northwest over the years.

Members of the Northern Lakes Fire Department and Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department found the woman’s sport utility vehicle about 100 feet from shore in 10 to 15 feet of water.

The sheriff’s Dive Rescue Team recovered the woman from the vehicle, but it was too late to revive her, deputies said in a press release.

The death on Thursday night was at least the 12th to occur at the boat ramp since 1995, according to news files.

A report in April 2006 indicated that nine people had died up to that point and that alcohol had been a factor in the accidents.

That news report came after a man and woman drowned, and a passenger escaped, early that month. Alcohol was believed to be a factor in that crash.

In a nearly identical accident in May 2006, two women were killed and a male passenger escaped through a window.

The women both had elevated blood-alcohol levels, sheriff’s deputies said at the time.