Probe of fatal Toyota crash in Southlake 'inconclusive'

Toyota Avalon

Credit: WFAA-TV

Rescue crews pulled this Toyota Avalon out of a pond in Southlake on December 26. Four people died in the accident.

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by JASON WHITELY / WFAA-TV

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

wfaa.com

Posted on January 27, 2010 at 5:20 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 28 at 10:03 AM

Pond rescue

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SOUTHLAKE — Neighbors heard the noise, but only one person witnessed what happened last month when a blue Toyota Avalon raced through a stop sign at more than 45 mph, blasted through a pipe fence, and overturned in a pond six feet deep at Lonesome Dove Road and Burney Lane.

"She did not see a driver behind the wheel just before it crashed," the investigator wrote after interviewing the woman who saw the accident.

Details of that deadly December day make up Southlake Police Department's 87-page report obtained by News 8 on Wednesday.

Two witnesses went in first,  followed by police, the report stated. It was the property owner along with a kayaker who happened to be driving by.

The kayaker's wife, a competitive swimmer, eventually dove in as well to help police.

The water wasn't just murky, it was also cold as the temperature that day was 43 degrees.

Rescuers could only locate two people: Monty Hardy, the driver and Hadassah Vance, a backseat passenger.

Only later would they learn two more were also trapped: Passengers Sharon Ransom and Wendy Akion. All four Jehovah's Witnesses were driving through Southlake conducting ministerial work.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner ruled that all four victims drowned.

Mrs. Hardy told investigators that her husband has epilepsy, but doctors recently prescribed him a new medicine. Doctors assured them it was still safe for Mr. Hardy to drive, she added.

Mrs. Hardy then shared something else.

Her husband loved his Toyota Avalon but "the only problem he had was that the accelerator would stick."

Plus, "they had received a recall notice on the Toyota ... for an acceleration problem," she continued.

The report never concludes what definitively caused the wreck -- whether it be a medical condition or a mechancial malfunction.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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