Special Sections

 


2012-03-29 / Front Page

Local Woman Dies in Tragic Drowning

Sally Lucker, 45, a community volunteer and President and Founder of Blue Paws Rescue, died as her car was swept off the road in swift water on FM 1624 on Tuesday.

On March 20, 2012, at 7:33 p.m., the Lee County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from Paul Meinke with the Texas Department of Transportation. Meinke was in the process of warning oil field workers to evacuate their rig due to the rising Middle Yegua Creek. This is the same location where 14 oil field workers had been rescued a few weeks before.

While Meinke was telling the oil field workers to evacuate, he heard a vehicle go by fast. Meinke followed the vehicle, a 2002 Mazda 4-door, and saw it floating down the creek before he lost sight of it.

Meinke then called 911 to report the incident. At least three units from the Lexington Volunteer Fire Department, along with Lexington EMS, the Lee County Sheriff’s Department, and Lexington Police responded to the call.


Austin Fire Department’s Special Operations Unit is seen taking DPS troopers down the Middle Yegua Creek as they search for Sally Lucker. Austin Fire Department’s Special Operations Unit is seen taking DPS troopers down the Middle Yegua Creek as they search for Sally Lucker. DPS and the Texas Rangers, along with Star Flight to assist in searching for the vehicle from the air, were also dispatched.

Search efforts continued until shortly before 10 p.m., when Star Flight discontinued the search. The water was still rising and flowing very swiftly, making it too dangerous to continue the search in the dark.

Early Wednesday morning, March 21, the Austin Fire Department’s Special Operations Unit, along with DPS, the Texas Rangers, and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, arrived on the scene to begin a search for the vehicle. A boat was launched into the Yegua by the Austin Fire Department’s Special Operations Unit, who began their search at the point on the Yegua where the witness said he first saw the vehicle enter the water. Swift water continued to cross FM 1624 at this time.


McCoy’s Wrecker is seen bringing the 2002 Mazda up to the roadway on FM 1624. McCoy’s Wrecker is seen bringing the 2002 Mazda up to the roadway on FM 1624. Investigators traveled the creek channel to a point not far off the highway, when they were unable to pass and deducted that the vehicle would not have been able to go beyond that point either. From there, they began to work their way back up the channel, using poles to search the muddy, fast moving water for hints of a vehicle submerged in the creek. At approximately 1:30 or 2 p.m., investigators determined that there was a vehicle in the water, upside down, at least 4 feet below the surface, about 100 yards off FM 1624. Their investigation made them believe that it was the vehicle witnessed being swept away Tuesday night.

At about 5 p.m., Lt. Eddie Martinez, with the Austin Fire Department’s Special Operations Unit, announced that search and recovery efforts were being suspended because it was still too dangerous, due to the continued swift movement of the water.

A decision was made to contact the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Dive Team to help in the recovery. Representatives with the Texas Department of Public Safety decided that the recovery would take place March 22, at 8:00 A.M.

On Thursday morning, the dive team, with the aide of McCoy’s Wrecker, was able to hook cables around the rear wheel and pull the vehicle out of the deep water into the shallower water. The vehicle was pulled up to FM 1624, where the victim was found inside with a dog. The inquest was held by Judge Nick Hester.

According to Sally Lucker’s husband, Geoff, and a friend, on Tuesday night, at 7:15 p.m. Sally called her friend, Linda Kidd, in Blue, to tell her she had left her husband, at the Caldwell St. Joseph Hospital emergency room, and was on her way home to feed and water her animals. Linda agreed to meet Sally at her home to help her with the animals at the rescue center and was planning to go with her to Caldwell to see about Geoff and pick him up from the hospital. Sally never made it home.

Return to top

 













Today's Special Links