Officials recover woman’s body, van
Leavenworth police are continuing to investigate why an area woman's van sped down a boat ramp and into the Missouri River.
About 7:45 p.m. Sunday, police were called to Riverfront Park, where witnesses told them a white van had accelerated down the ramp, splashing into the river, according to police Lt. Pat Kitchens. Numerous law enforcement officers, along with area water rescue squads, responded.
"It was midnight or after before they located the van," Kitchens said.
Inside, they found the body of the woman who was driving, Nancy E. Carlton, 46, a Leavenworth County resident.
Preliminary reports from an autopsy on Monday showed no signs of injury or trauma, Kitchens said. Complete autopsy results will be available in several weeks.
"We still haven't determined any kind of motive," Kitchens said. "I don't know if we will. It's still classified as a death investigation until the coroner rules on the cause of death."
Kitchens said officers had talked with family members, who were surprised about the incident.
Sunday night, the Leavenworth County Water Rescue and Technical Services Team was among the squads that searched for the van.
Dan Tallman, chief of Sherman Township Fire Department, was among team members in a boat in the river. His squad, along with others, probed the bottom of the river, hoping to strike metal and avoiding obstacles, such as sticks and trees.
"That's the first time we've been on the Missouri with a boat," he said.
The river is deeper than the Kansas River.
"It's a constant current, no matter how much water is in it," Tallman said.
Darkness hampered recovery efforts, he said.
"We had a little bit of daylight while we were on the water, and then it did get dark on us," he said. "Our boat did well. It did a good job."
The van was found about 60 feet from shore, in nearly 20 feet of water.
"The Missouri Water Patrol brought a boat in with a drag and they began dragging the bottom and they eventually located it," said Dave Couvehla, training officer for the county's squad.
Others helping with the recovery effort were the Leavenworth City, Kickapoo Township, Fort Leavenworth and Platte County (Mo.) fire departments; Leavenworth County Emergency Medical Service; and Lee's Summit (Mo.) Underwater Rescue and Recovery.