Man dies in Oakland Township after vehicle submerges

Published 9:16 am Thursday, June 12, 2008

A man died Thursday after the automobile he was driving struck an embankment and submerged in water in an area of road that was washed out on County Road 34 in Oakland Township.

The name of the man and his cause of death have not been released pending family notification.

According to the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office, the dispatch center received a call at about 1:05 a.m. Thursday from a motorist who reported that County Road 34 had been completely washed out due to heavy rains in the area between County Road 21 and County Road 19.

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Shortly after, a second call was received from a different motorist who reported that a vehicle had gone off the road in the washout. The caller stated that the driver of the vehicle was unhurt but unable to get to solid ground because of the rushing water, a news release stated.

The driver and sole occupant of that vehicle was safely brought to solid ground, but upon rescue that person informed enforcement officials that his vehicle was actually resting on top of another vehicle that was completely submerged within the washout area, according to the release.

The Albert Lea Fire Department arrived at the scene and completed a rapid water recovery of the submerged vehicle. Upon raising the vehicle, they found a lone male occupant deceased inside.

The release stated that evidence at the scene

indicates that the vehicle was most likely southbound on County Road 34 during heavy rain, when the driver encountered the washout. He most likely struck the embankment on the south side of the washout before plummeting into the moving water and submerging.

Members of the Freeborn County Highway Department, first responders from London and Myrtle township fire departments and Allen’s Tow-N-Travel assisted with the recovery and road closure.

County Road 34 will remain closed indefinitely until the washout is repaired.

Look to the Tribune for information about the man as it becomes available.

The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for south central Minnesota, including Albert Lea, on Thursday morning. The warning urged people to watch out for high waters in urban areas and small streams. The warning was in effect until 8:45 a.m.

“A flood warning means that flooding is imminent or has been reported. Stream rises will be slow and flash flooding is not expected,” the National Weather Service stated.

The thunderstorm moved through Albert Lea shortly after midnight. The flood warning was issued close to 3 a.m. because of “moderate to heavy rains.”

The National Weather Service estimated 3 to 5 inches fell across the southeast portion of Freeborn County, “mainly east of a line from Mansfield, Albert Lea and Hollandale. Some roads were reported to be washed out across the southern part of the county.”

A portion of Freeborn County Road 34 in eastern Freeborn County was shut down Thursday morning.

Mower County also was under a flood warning. As of press time, the National Weather Service cautioned residents of flooding on Dobbins Creek, Turtle Creek and the Cedar River.

Albert Lea and much of southeast Minnesota remained under a flash flood watch until noon Thursday.

Mason City, hit hard by floods earlier this week, had hoped to have drinking water Thursday but now won’t have it until Friday, city officials said.

Heavy rains overnight mean the Winnebago River is on the rise Thursday. It is expected to crest at 1 a.m. Friday morning. The highest level ever was reached Monday. That mark was close to 18 1/2 feet.

Charles City, St. Ansgar and other northern Iowa cities have been hit hard by rising waters this week, too.