NJ Woman Dies in Irene Floodwaters Despite Calls for Help

Tragedy hit Sunday after a young woman was caught in floodwaters caused by Hurricane Irene and died in her car in Salem County.

New Jersey State Police say Celena Sylvestri of Quinton, N.J., called authorities for help from her car on a flooded road early Sunday morning in Salem County and was found dead in the vehicle about eight hours later.

Sylvestri was driving to her boyfriend’s house when her car became stuck in floodwaters. Sylvestri called for help about 1:40 a.m. Sunday, first to her boyfriend then 9-1-1, saying water was up to her neck in her Honda Accord.

For some reason she had tried driving through the Salem River Creek and it had lifted her car off Harding Highway in Pilesgrove.

Her car was submerged along Route 40.

"We tried to find her, we tried to locate her, we were screaming for her -- we couldn't find her," said State Police Lt. Jay Miller. "There was just so much water -- water was surging -- there was no telling where she went in at. It was just a dangerous situation."

Her body was found in her car about 9:30 a.m. about 80 feet off the road by state troopers, police said.

She was swept off the road and deep into the woods. She appeared to still be strapped into her car seat when she was found, according to authorities.

State police say they went to look for her but couldn't immediately find her in the dark.

They came across and rescued another motorist, 68-year-old James Troy. He was rescued sometime after 2 a.m. He got out of his car and was clinging onto a tree when he was rescued. He is expected to be OK.

When police went to remove Troy's truck in the morning, they discovered Sylvestri in her car.

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Copyright AP - Associated Press
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