Mum dies in car horror

WITNESSES were helpless to save a 72-year-old woman as her car left the road and plunged into the icy cold river at Ely. Janet Parisi of Black Bank Road, Little Downham, died after her blue Ford Ka entered the water near Queen Adelaide Bridge just before

WITNESSES were helpless to save a 72-year-old woman as her car left the road and plunged into the icy cold river at Ely.

Janet Parisi of Black Bank Road, Little Downham, died after her blue Ford Ka entered the water near Queen Adelaide Bridge just before 3.30pm on Monday, prompting a four-hour recovery operation as divers and specialist teams lifted the car from the river Ouse.

The body was found inside the vehicle and police say no other vehicles were involved in the accident.

Ely fire-fighter Steve Merry was called to the crash and said residents and passers-by had stopped to help, but there was nothing they could do.


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"The car was in the middle of the river; I could only see about two inches of it and in such a fast-flowing river with the wind, it disappeared within a couple of minutes," he said, adding that the driver may have misjudged the bend in the road.

"We sent our rescue vehicle from Cambridge but we are very limited in what we can do in these situations. We had to leave it to the qualified divers from Spartan Rescue with their specialist equipment and they pulled the car out of the water.

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"When you get involved in this sort of situation it is never going to be a life-saving mission. It is only ever going to be body retrieval - we feel just as bad as everybody else does about that."

Treacherous winter conditions dramatically reduce the survival rate of drivers if water is involved.

"Hypothermia sets in after a matter of seconds and everything starts to shut down - a person can't think or speak and this driver's reactions would have been limited."

Monday's crash follows the death of Ely man Paul Atkinson, whose body was found in his car after he crashed into the water at the notorious Forty Foot Bank.

An inquest into his death was opened and adjourned last Thursday.

Mr Merry said ditches with as little as three feet of water in them can be extremely dangerous.

"If a car goes into the water upside down it doesn't take long," he said.

"The roads are very greasy and there is a lot of mud on the roads from the tractors - more people are likely to be killed on country roads than on city roads."

Pc Paul Symonds is investigating the crash and appealed for witnesses to the incident.

"I'd like to hear from anyone who was in the Queen Adelaide area yesterday afternoon, who may have seen the Ford Ka in the moments leading up to the collision."

INFO: Anyone with information should call Pc Symonds, at the road policing unit on 0845 456 4564.

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