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One dead in car found in pond near freeway

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SALT LAKE CITY -- One woman has been confirmed dead in a car found submerged in a retention pond near the northbound I-15 collector to SR-201.

Just after noon on Friday, a passer-by in a semitrailer truck spotted a vehicle upside down in the water, the Utah Highway Patrol said.

"Being in a regular passenger car, you don't see over the sound walls anyway, so fortunately we had the semi driver that was up high enough that called this in," said Sgt. Terry Woodward with the UHP.

Troopers arrived at the scene and had to look over the concrete barricade before they could see the vehicle.

"It appears the vehicle struck the wall on one side of the ramp and then went over the other wall on the other," the UHP said. The vehicle came off of the overpass and fell about 50 to 70 feet, landing upside down on the far bank of a retention pond.

If you have any information about the accident, please call UHP dispatch at 801-887-3800.

Maria L. Mejia, 21, was found dead inside the vehicle. Investigators confirmed that she was wearing a seatbelt. Firefighters had to cut the roof of the car to get Mejia out.

A child's booster seat and a car seat were also found in the vehicle, sending a Department of Public Safety dive team into the water to search for other victims. Investigators later determined that there were no children in the car at the time of the accident.

It was unknown how long the car had been in the water before it was discovered. The Deseret News received an e-mail from one man who works in the area who said he saw a bumper in the same area where the car was discovered about 9:20 a.m. as he was going to work, but did not see a car.

Investigators have not found any witnesses to the accident. Still, troopers have a good idea what led to it: "I'm pretty certain that speed is going to be a contributing factor on this," Woodward said.

Troopers say they may never know why Mejia was going so fast, but the wreckage and the debris scattered on the road show the impact.

"If anybody has seen or may have witnessed this, if they can call our dispatch center, any information would be helpful," Woodward said.

If you have any information about the accident, please call the Utah Highway Patrol dispatch at (801) 887-3800.


Story written with contributions from Pat Reavy, Sandra Yi and Marc Giauque.

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