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Body recovered from vehicle submerged in ditch identified

A Longville man’s death is the first confirmed flood-related death in Lake Charles
Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 8:28 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Law enforcement recovered a body Tuesday afternoon in a vehicle that was in a low-lying area off East Prien Lake Road.

“It started on Monday when the rain came down hard and we were parked over here,” said witness, Richard Balana. “We saw the truck floating inside the ditch on the side of the freeway, and when he got over here by here in this area about 100 yards from there, he capsized and went underwater.”

That witness says after he saw the white Nissan Frontier capsize after being swept off the roadway, he called 911.

On Monday, the Lake Charles Fire Department was notified of the reported vehicle in the 3200 block of East Prien Lake Road. A fire crew responded and attempted to locate the vehicle.

“We called the fire department, and they came down and looked for about 30 minutes,” Balana said. “They left because they didn’t find it. Yesterday, we started waiting for the water level to go down. We kept going back to the ditch looking for it, and we found it.”

Tuesday afternoon, the Lake Charles Police Department and LCFD returned to the area and located the truck with a deceased male inside.

The male has been identified as 61-year-old James E. Netherland of Longville, La.

Witnesses say they felt of sense of helplessness not being able to save him themselves.

“There was a few guys who went over there trying to help but the water was too high. You couldn’t see any grass between the road and that ditch,” Balana said. “We knew he was there, but we didn’t know if the current was dragging him or not. [Fire crews] looked for it, couldn’t find it, so they just left. It was just sad for the family, you know?”

The Calcasieu Parish Coroner’s Office confirms it is the first flood-related death in Lake Charles from Monday’s storms. It is the fifth flood-related death statewide.

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