Two dead in separate pond accidents

Published 8:29 pm Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Photographed the morning after, the scene where a Nissan car with a family of four drove off Respass Beach Road in North Suffolk’s Burbage Grant on Tuesday evening, through a hedge and into a retention pond. The mother later died in the hospital.

Photographed the morning after, the scene where a Nissan car with a family of four drove off Respass Beach Road in North Suffolk’s Burbage Grant on Tuesday evening, through a hedge and into a retention pond. The mother later died in the hospital.

By Matthew A. Ward and Tracy Agnew

Burbage Landing Circle’s Josh and Katie West were reading a bedtime story to their children Tuesday when the car plunged into the icy waters of the retention pond behind their North Suffolk home.

The noise was like banging trashcans, Josh West recalled.

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“I looked out the window and noticed a car in the pond,” he said. “My wife called 911; I put on my shoes and ran.”

The car — a Nissan, city of Suffolk spokeswoman Diana Klink stated in a news release — had driven off Respass Beach Road a short distance from Northern Shores Elementary School, on the opposite side, at about 7:50 p.m. The temperature for Suffolk was 27 degrees, and the water was between four and five feet deep.

It would turn out to be only the first deadly accident within 10 hours involving a vehicle in a body of water, after another accident on the opposite end of the city just a few hours later.

No skid marks were visible on Respass Beach Road Wednesday morning where the vehicle jumped the curb and ran through a hedge before entering the pond.

West said he arrived at the water’s edge and hollered,  “Is anybody there?” Then came the reply, “‘Yeah’” … “I said, ‘You OK?’” West continued. “He said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Are you alone?’ He said, ‘No.’

West asked, “Who’s with you?” and the man responded, “My family, my kids.”

“I said, ‘Where are the kids?’” West added. “He said, ‘I don’t know.’”

West said he saw the first silhouette soon after wading into the pond. “His son was facedown in the water,” he said.

“I picked him up and he was slightly conscious. I saw another silhouette 15 feet away – his daughter. She was facedown. I picked her up (and) she was completely unconscious.”

West said he took the children to the bank. He said the boy coughed a little when he laid him down and then opened his eyes.

“I laid (the girl) down and did chest compressions,” he said. West’s wife and two other neighbors arrived beside the water about this time, West said, one of them an emergency room physician in the Air Force.

Josh West said that the man — his leg trapped underneath the car and submerged up to his neck — told him he didn’t know where his wife was. West looked around. “She wasn’t in the car (and) she wasn’t in the water,” he recalled.

West managed to free the man, pulling him ashore with the help of one of the others, who then kept searching for the wife from the bank. Rescue units from the city began arriving.

His neighbor was able to revive the daughter, West said, adding he took her to West’s home, where he had left his dog, while Katie West took the boy to another neighbor’s home. The neighbor in the Air Force initially attended to both children, Josh West said, then assisted in stabilizing the girl once she was loaded into an ambulance.

The girl, 2, and boy, 3, were subsequently transported by road ambulance to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, Klink stated. On Wednesday, the children remained at CHKD with injuries not considered life-threatening.

West said Suffolk police divers recovered the mother, Latasha Dubois, 23, about an hour after the accident. “From what I gather, she was on the front side of the car, on the passenger side,” he said. “She was not visible anywhere.”

Klink said the woman was taken by road ambulance to Maryview Hospital in Portsmouth and later pronounced dead in the emergency room there. The husband, 25-year-old London Dubois, was airlifted by Nightingale to Sentara Norfolk General with what were believed to be life-threatening injuries. He was treated and released.

West said London Dubois, after he was on the bank, remembered him being in the water but not what he looked like. “He went into hypothermic shock on the bank,” West said. “He couldn’t remember anything.”

He said Wednesday morning the man was still in shock. “(He) really doesn’t have words to describe it,” West said. “He lost his wife.”

West said he believes the family, which lives a few doors down from his home in the 6700 block of Burbage Landing Circle, was on their way home when the accident happened.

He said the fact that he and his wife were in bed reading to their children and able to hear the commotion, that one of the other responding neighbors was walking his dog and also able to hear it, “that everybody was able to do what they needed to do,” tells him that things happen for a reason.

“It was very surreal and it happened very quick,” West said, adding he would now “hug my kids tighter; hug my family tighter. Things can happen so fast (and) I feel horrible for the family.”

Klink listed nine Suffolk Fire and Rescue units that responded to the emergency as well as “numerous” police units and the police department’s mobile command bus.

The cause of the accident was still under investigation, she stated.

The horror was renewed early Wednesday morning, when 53-year-old Daniel Post of Franklin called 911 and told them his Dodge Dakota pickup had run off the road and was submerged in a body of water, but he did not know his exact location.

Dispatchers traced the “pings” from cell towers to determine an approximate location, Klink said in a press release, and emergency workers from the Suffolk Police Department, Virginia State Police, Southampton County Sheriff’s Office, Franklin Police Department and Isle of Wight Sheriff’s office began searching for the location of the crash.

“There were so many different entities involved,” Klink said in thanks to the agencies that responded. “It was an unbelievable response.”

Suffolk Police subsequently found a set of tire tracks that led to a small pond in the 900 block of South Quay Road, according to Klink. Post was dead when they arrived.

Klink said Wednesday she was waiting on confirmation of the exact time the wreck was found.

She said several police officers she had spoken with Wednesday who have been on the force for more than 20 years do not recall another fatal accident involving a body of water.

The cause of both accidents remains under investigation.