Woman drowned in submerged car while cops kept bystanders from helping, witness says
A Texas woman drowned Tuesday in her car after it became submerged in a storm water canal, and witnesses said police made no attempt to help her and prevented others from trying.
Constance Manzanares and two other motorists drove into the flooded ditch in El Paso about 6:30 a.m. after they apparently were unable to tell where the roadway ended, authorities said.
A witness told KFOX-TV she saw the woman moving her hands inside the 2005 Toyota Corolla, but she said police stopped three men from going into the water to save the 64-year-old Manzanares.
“They hit the window on the driver’s side, and she tried to get out but there’s a fence right there, and she couldn’t get out,” the witness said. “So she had all that weight with her and all the water inside. The men got scared, they didn’t want to leave, they were mad, so they got scared, people were yelling so they had to leave before they got arrested.”
Several other witnesses who live nearby backed the woman’s claims, KFOX reported.
“We thought they were going to rescue her or come and do something, CPR, take her out, something, they have the tools, everyone had the tools, but they didn’t do anything,” the witness said. “Nothing, they didn’t even touch the water.”
Another woman who witnessed the incident said she and her daughter tried to help a man who drove his pickup into the water, which she said was about waist-high and fast-moving.
“The neighborhood was powerless,” 45-year-old Patricia Lopez told the El Paso Times.
El Paso police declined to comment about officers stopping passersby from helping the woman, saying the department’s special traffic investigations unit was looking into the incident.
Witnesses said the woman was trapped in the car for about an hour and a half before her body was pulled from the vehicle.
“They assumed she was dead, but I don’t know,” the witness said. “Nobody was there to say if she was dead, that’s why (the bystanders) went to try and help her.”
Watch this video report posted online by KFOX-TV: