CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WSAV) – Two people are dead after being pulled from a vehicle submerged in a pond near Montgomery Cross Road and Truman Parkway Sunday, according to the Chatham County Police Department.
CCPD identified the victims as 38-year-old Crystal Eve Reynolds and her daughter, 16-year-old Ijenae Christiana Reynolds. Family members say says the two were close.
“My sister was a person who was lovable and loved by her family,” said Rashad Lovett, Crystal’s brother-in-law. “[She] loved to call and check on everybody. [She] loved her children and went hard in paint for her children.”
When it comes to Ijenae, Lovett says she was soft-spoken but loved to make people laugh. She was a student at Johnson High School and he says her friends are missing her dearly.
Crystal Reynolds’ family says she died helping her kids. They say she was teaching Ijenae how to drive when Ijenae accidentally reversed the car into a retention pond near Lake Mayer.
Chatham EMS confirms crews first responded to a report that a car reversed into the pond. They could not confirm any specifics or who was driving the car.
Crystal’s aunt and uncle say she called them for help during the emergency situation and heard Crystal’s last words, just moments before she went unconscious.
A memorial — with pink balloons and a personalized cross — is growing at the spot where the car rolled into the water. Chatham EMS says crews were on-scene within four minutes.
Chief James Vickers says it took that long because crews were originally dispatched to the wrong location. It took crews nearly 20 minutes to rescue the two women.
“Basically, it’s a technical rescue operation,” explained Chief Vickers. “There’s a lot of safety aspects to take into consideration and it takes a lot of coordination.”
Crystal Reynold’s father says he standing tall, despite the unimaginable loss. “I rejoice for my daughter and my granddaughter. I will not cry because the day that she was born that was the day to cry,” said Kenny Reynolds.
Lovett says the family is planning a candlelight vigil at the retention pond on Thursday at 6 p.m. He says it will be a celebration of life.
“She gave you her heart and we’re here to celebrate that,” he said. “Though we may shed tears, though our hearts may be heavy, we’re here at this moment and at this time to thank God for the years and the moments we had with them.”
Chief Chuck Kearns says there are several tools that anyone can buy to help themselves in a similar situation. He says to put them in a center console so they are easy to find.
“You want to be able to cut a seatbelt to free a person and then pound the window out,” he said.
If you see someone struggling to swim, Chief Kearns says you can throw several items from the car into the water to help. Spare tires are known to float.
CCPD says this incident is still under investigation, but officials do believe that the deaths are a result of “a tragic accident.”