Marine units resume search for driver in Schuylkill River

EAST FALLS - September 30, 2011

Marine units returned to the scene this morning to see if they can recover the body of the driver, who is presumed dead.

The driver is believed to be the car owner's girlfriend, a West Philadelphia woman between 25 and 35 years of age.

It was a dramatic scene as a tow truck pulled a 2008 silver Mercury Grand Marquis with Pennsylvania tags out of the Schuylkill River.

"It does come up registered to an owner in Philadelphia. We have police officers at the house and then we're going to try and determine and identify who was driving the vehicle," Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said.

It had been a frantic search by police and the marine unit using small boats, jet skis and even the police helicopter.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says the car was finally located by a portable sonar device that can see underwater.

Divers then went in to confirm that no one was in the car.

Witnesses say it was about 4:15 p.m. when they noticed the woman got off the expressway travelling at a high rate of speed down Ferry Road when the car crashed through the retaining wall and into the river.

Police say the car was travelling at 40 to 60 miles an hour.

"Then she got out of the car in the water, she started bobbing up and down. I said, 'Anybody else in the car with you?' She said 'Help me. Help me.' I couldn't jump in, it was going to pull me under, the current is too strong and I feel bad about that," Eisenlohr said.

Witnesses say they felt helpless because the current was so fierce there was nothing they could do.

"There's nothing nobody could do; it's a sad thing," Bates said.

The car will be inspected to see if there was any type of mechanical failure, otherwise they will have to wait for autopsy results once the body is recovered.

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