Sheriff says swift current contributed to woman’s death in flash flood

UNION COUNTY,IL — The body of a 59-year-old woman and a car were recovered Monday morning after they were swept away by flash flooding Sunday on State Forest Road in Union County, Illinois.

A man was also in the car when it was swept away. Union County Sheriff Scott Harvel said two were able to get out of the car, but they became separated in the swift current and only the man was able to make it out of the water. Harvel said the damage to the car shows how dangerous the current was.

“It was very very swift. In all the years I’ve been here, it’s probably the swiftest I’ve ever seen that creek there. It’s very dangerous,” Harvel said. “I think they tried to crawl out. Once the water swept the car away from that ramp, they tried to cross. It actually blew out that windshield when they tumbled down the creek, and they were able to escape out the back window.”

Neither of their names have been released to the public yet.

The water receded enough Monday for crews to recover the woman’s body and the destroyed car. The car was found in a creek. The sheriff said the water could have been as high 10 to 12 feet during the flash flood. He said this is a prime example why people should never drive through floodwaters.

“Don’t cross any swift water like this. This could be a tragic thing if you do. It’s not worth taking a chance. Turn around, and find another way,” said Harvel.

“Your car can get swept off of water really fast. You think because you have a big, high up car you can go right through it, but that doesn’t always happen,” said Hunter.

It’s best not to risk it. Harvel said the sheriff’s office will be enforcing the road closure signs in that area and making sure people don’t get in the water.