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Police say area where car, body was found is prone to accidents

A quiet Osceola neighborhood overlooking the St. Joseph River was the scene of a tragedy that neighbors woke up to around 7:30 Sunday morning.

“Yea when I woke up, my neighbors said they found a car down here,” said Larry Peer, a neighbor in the Baugo Bay area.

St. Joseph County police are investigating after receiving a call about a car into the river at the end of Vistula Road with a body inside.

“We contacted the appropriate resources; our dive team, the Department of Natural Resources who were able to remove the car from the water,” said Asst. Chief Bill Thompson with St. Joseph County Police.

31-year-old Houston Rayburn of Mishawaka was identified as the person who died in that accident just before 2am, according to police. Neighbors along this stretch of road say this isn’t’ the first time they’ve seen an accident like this happen right here.

“There was tons of people that would come down here and do U-turns. They would come down, they would think it went all the way through, and before you know it they would wind up in the river. They would have to pull cars out,” said Peer.

 And police agree after responding to this area multiple times in the past.

“Unfortunately we have had vehicles drive off into the river from here before so this does happen periodically. It’s marked in terms of it being a dead end but it’s not marked in terms of it being a dead end that ends directly into the river,” said Thompson.

Due to the river flooding from heavy rain over the past five days, Thompson says it’s a time to be extra cautious near the river.

“Obviously we want folks to be very careful anytime they’re around the river, and especially now with the river being up and running as fast as it is,” said Thompson.

I reached out to the Osceola Street Department as of Sunday afternoon about the signage and past incidents in this area, but I’m still waiting to hear back.

Meanwhile neighbors in this area say.. It never gets easier hearing about it..

“It was surprising. I don’t know what happened but my thoughts and prayers go out to the family so…” said Peer.

The coroner has ordered an exam to find out the cause of the accident so this is an ongoing investigation at this time.

Thompson explained that the particular drop off where Rayburn’s vehicle hit the water is not actually a boat ramp, although it is used in that way sometimes. He says several decades ago, it used to be one stretch of road across to the other side where the water in Baugo Bay currently sits which could explain the sudden dip making it look like the road continues. Stick with ABC 57 News for this developing story.

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