RAPIDES PARISH, LA (KPLC) - A Leesville woman appears to have drowned Monday when her car was swept away in floodwater in Hineston, La., authorities said.
Odartha Hoggatt, 57, died of an apparent drowning, said Lt. Tommy Carnline, Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office spokesman. An autopsy is being conducted to confirm a positive cause of death.
The Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office got a call a little after 1 p.m. about a vehicle being swept away by floodwater in the Big Creek/ Tolbert Loop area, he said.
"Initial reports indicate a female subject and a small child were traveling in a vehicle on Big Creek Road when they went through some water near a bridge and were swept into a ditch," Carnline said. "The female and the child escaped the vehicle before it sank in the rough water. Two other females were walking near the area and could hear what they thought was a cat screaming in the distance. When they went to investigate, they located the small child clinging to a tree. They immediately swam to the child and rescued him from the tree. The female subject was also located nearby and appeared to have already drowned as she was not conscious and not breathing."
The child was transported to a local hospital "but appeared to be in good condition on initial examination," Carnline said.
"This is a terrible tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and everyone involved" said Sheriff William Earl Hilton. "I would like to commend those ladies for their heroic and quick action that saved that child. It is so important, especially with the current conditions, that every precaution should be taken when driving near high water areas. Water can rise so fast and is so powerful it can wash a vehicle away in an instant."
Rapides deputies, along with members of the Oak Hill Volunteer Fire Department, responded to the scene.