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Sheriff: Woman pulled from water 'drove into the river'

Investigators look to car's data recorder for more information

Published: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 3:37 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 11:34 p.m. CDT
Melva M. Meridith

DIXON – Authorities say the woman whose body was pulled from the Rock River last week drove herself into the water.

Her body was found downstream from her submerged car.

Lee County Sheriff John Varga said investigators Wednesday worked on removing the black box – the data recorder – from the 2002 Pontiac Grand Am of Melva M. Meridith, 56, of Dixon. They hoped that it might reveal more information, particularly some indication of how fast Meridith’s car was moving before it entered the water.

“We’re just trying to get all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed,” Varga said. “We’re still talking to family members and friends, but unfortunately it does look like she drove into the river.”

Meridith’s cause of death has not yet been released, because the coroner’s office is waiting on toxicology reports, Varga said.

Her body was pulled from the river April 29 after calls reported a missing person and, later, the discovery of her submerged car near a boat launch at Rock River Estates, a mobile home park along state Route 2 between Sterling and Dixon.

According to a report received by the sheriff’s department, Meridith was last seen driving away from her home in Rock River Estates about 9 a.m. on the day her body was found.

The call reporting her missing was placed just before 5:30 p.m.

At 7:30 p.m., deputies received a report of a car in the river near the boat launch. Upon arriving, deputies were able to confirm no one was inside the car. They continued to search the river for its driver, which is when they found Meridith’s body.

According to her obituary, Meridith was a rehabilitation technician at Kreider Services in Dixon for 18 years before she retired.

She also attended St. Anne Catholic Church in Dixon and was a volunteer at the Leydig Center.

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