Woman Drowns At Lake Thunderbird, Man Tries To Save Her

Monday, July 11th 2011, 5:46 pm
By: News 9

Michael Konopasek, News 9

UPDATE -- Authorities have released the identification of the woman who drove into Lake Thunderbird. 

Ninety-five-year-old Alice Spann of Norman was driving east bound on Alameda Drive at a high rate of  speed when her car struck a pipe gate and continued into Lake Thunderbird.

Spann's family says she was a Navy officer in World War II and a former OU employee who walked four miles a day and volunteered at Norman Regional Hospital.

They describe her as a " wonderful and vibrant person."

Investigators are not sure what caused the accident.  They say Spann may have suffered from a medical condition just before the crash.

NORMAN, Oklahoma – Monday evening, divers located a vehicle with a woman trapped in about 15 feet of water at Lake Thunderbird.

Witnesses told News 9 they saw the woman drive at a high rate of speed into the west side of the lake.

Lee Hankins, who works at a marina where the accident happened, tried to save her but couldn't.

"I jumped off the corner of the dock and swam about another 50 feet," said Hankins. "I reached over her and was in her lap. I was so close, grabbing the seat belt. I was inches from getting it, but I couldn't get it."

Hankins said he and a friend tried to save her numerous times.

"By the time I got down there, I was so out of breath. I barely had any breath to do anything," said Hankins. "We kept looking at each other and she was just kind of in a daze, and all I could think was just, get her out, get her out, get her out."

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said it took longer than normal to recover the car.

"The vehicle traveled out into the water several hundred feet, which is kind of odd," Trooper Mike Max said.

Witnesses said the woman behind the wheel was elderly. Police said it is too early to know if it was a medical condition that caused the accident.

"It was a shocking thing for me," said Hankins. "I never went through anything like that before. It's something I'll never forget and would like to."

OHP troopers said they planned to notify the woman's family before releasing her name.