Three softball players from Dickinson State University in North Dakota who had been missing since Sunday have been found dead. After a day and a half of ground & air searches, rescue teams found a vehicle submerged in a nearby pond - with the three girls dead inside.
(L to R: Kyrstin Gemar, Ashley Neufeld, Afton Williamson)
The bodies of Kyrstin Gemar, 22, Ashley Neufeld, 21, and Afton Williamson, 20, were discovered Tuesday afternoon in a white 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee that had been submerged in a stock pond northwest of the town of Dickinson. Searchers had seen tracks with oil residue on the surface that lead into the pond.
From the BISMARCK TRIBUNE:
The three women were reported missing late Sunday night after calling a friend for help at 11:17 and 11:18 p.m. During the scratchy call, the women mentioned a lake, police said.
Air searches were conducted throughout Monday and Tuesday by the North Dakota Highway Patrol, the Civil Air Patrol and the North Dakota National Guard. Numerous area agencies, including police and sheriff’s departments, were involved in the ground searches, which Dickinson Police Lt. Rod Banyai said involved vehicles, ATVs and walkers.
Banyai said it was too early to consider the incident an accident, though foul play was not suspected.
Banyai added that it wasn’t clear who was driving the Jeep, although the vehicle belonged to Gemar. The girls were have believed to be out on a star gazing trip. The Dickinson Police Dept. has scheduled a press conference for 5 a.m. Mountain Time Wednesday morning.
The university has announced on its website that all Tuesday night events and all Wednesday classes have been canceled. A prayer service was held Tuesday evening, and counselors will be available to students, faculty & staff throughout the week.