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Woman plunges to her death after leaving roadway, entering 20-foot deep pond

Gwinnett County police are investigating the death of a woman who plunged into a pond.
Gwinnett County police are investigating the death of a woman who plunged into a pond.
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A 53-year-old woman plunged to her death after her vehicle left the roadway and fell into a pond Wednesday morning in Gwinnett County.

Police have identified the woman as Laura Jones Tavel, of Duluth, and they are trying to determine what caused her vehicle to crash.

The incident happened around 7:25 a.m. in the 5000 block of Peachtree Corners Circle, according to Gwinnett County police. Investigators said Tavel was heading east in a silver 2000 Honda CR-V between Peachtree Parkway and Medlock Bridge when she attempted to negotiate a curve, police spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter said.

For unknown reasons, she veered to the right, off of the roadway into a retention pond, Ritter said.

“The driver was unable to exit the vehicle and died on scene after the vehicle sank into approximately 15 to 20 feet of water,” Ritter said.

Gwinnett County and Hall County firefighters pulled her body from the water and was released it to Gwinnett County Medical Examiner.

Ted E. Bailey with the medical examiner's office confirmed Tavel died of drowning, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He said it would be 10 to 12 weeks before testing for alcohol and other substances would be completed.

There was no serious trauma to her body or evidence of any “catastrophic natural disease,” he said.

Gwinnett County fire Capt. Tommy Rutledge said the vehicle was completely submerged when fire crews arrived.

“The witnesses reported to us that they saw the driver in the vehicle, and she wasn’t really making any attempt to try to exit the vehicle,” Rutledge said. “The vehicle floated out into the water, suddenly nosed into the water and began to quickly sink. All of this played out within a matter of moments, according to the witnesses.”