Police Identify Driver Swept Away by Flooded Creek in Garland

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The driver swept away by a flooded creek in Garland has been identified.

Rita Jo Vinson, 49, of Greenville, was located hours after her car was found flipped over in Spring Creek by rescue crews Sunday, Garland police said.

Garland fire and police were dispatched at about 2:18 a.m. to a call of a person trapped in a Nissan Altima in the 1700 block of Holford Road surrounded by water.

Police said the woman told dispatchers she was coming from a friend's house.

As the Garland Fire Department arrived, they saw the car trapped in the water at the north end of a bridge, Garland fire Battalion Chief Mike VanBuskirk said.

Rescue crews could not safely reach the car because the water was flowing about 12-24 inches over the roadway, and the car was swept into the creek, he said.

"There's a lot of times that we do have the victim or the occupant on the phone at the time, but a lot of times we get there in time to be able to get them out," VanBuskirk said. "Unfortunately they weren't able to get to the vehicle before it went into the creek."

The car was recovered about 300 yards downstream at about 7 a.m., but the woman was not inside.

A crew searching by boat spotted a body before 4 p.m. Sunday, but could not get close enough Sunday to make an identification, VanBuskirk said.

Several other agencies helped with the search Sunday, including Wylie, Richardson and Plano fire departments, dogs from Lone Star Search and Rescue, and the Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter.

"We try to preach that all the time ... turn around, don't drown," VanBuskirk said. "It only takes 6 inches of water before it can start moving your vehicle. With a foot of water it can move just about any vehicle off the road."

When storms come, the street department typically closes the barricades by the bridge, but the rain came down too fast for them to do so, VanBuskirk said.

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