As Kootenai County investigators await autopsy results and try to piece together how a 25-year-old woman and her two little boys ended up in a car submerged in Fernan Lake, her brother described her Friday as a “loving, caring person and a wonderful mother.”
Ed Maki said his family hasn’t been told by law enforcement authorities what happened to his sister, Misty Phelps, or her boys, 1-year-old Tristan Phelps and 2-year-old Riley Phelps.
Autopsy results won’t be available for several weeks.
The bodies were retrieved by divers on Thursday after a witness fishing on the North Idaho lake reported the vehicle in the lake.
Phelps worked at the Coeur d’Alene Press for three years in the production department, Publisher Larry Riley said.
He said the paper was working on reporting a story about her death while also giving employees space to grieve.
“We’re just kind of finding out about this,” Riley said.
Phelps was in the middle of divorce proceedings from her husband, Tyler W. Phelps. She petitioned for divorce in February, according to court documents, and had a hearing scheduled Tuesday in advance of a December court date.
Staff at the offices of Clayton Andersen, an attorney for Misty Phelps, declined to comment on the incident or the court case.
Lisa Maki, the sister-in-law of Misty Phelps, said she last talked to her on Wednesday. The young woman was upset and was under stress because of the divorce, Maki said.
Maki said her nephews loved the movie “Shrek,” and that Phelps loved watching movies with her boys.
Said Maki of her sister-in-law: “She would stop and talk to anybody who needed a friend.”
Ashley Smith and her three children live in the other side of the duplex that Misty Phelps called home.
“Her kids were great,” she said. “My kids loved playing with her kids.”
Smith said she occasionally baby-sat for Phelps while she ran errands. The boys were always happy, she said. “They were both just adorable.”
She saw numerous police officers at Phelps’ home Thursday afternoon but did not learn about Phelps’ death until Friday evening. She said she last saw Phelps on Wednesday evening.
“She loved her kids,” she said. “They were her life.”
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