The Duluth woman who died when her car plunged into a pond in Peachtree Corners was a veteran teacher in Fulton County, Channel 2 Action News reported.
Laura Jones Tavel, 53, who drowned Wednesday, had worked at River Trail Middle School in Johns Creek since 2001, the news station confirmed.
Just before 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, Tavel’s silver 2000 Honda CR-V was negotiating a curve while traveling east on Peachtree Corners Circle when she veered to the right and into a retention pond, the Gwinnett County Police Department reported.
Tavel was traveling between Peachtree Parkway and Medlock Bridge Road on a cut-through street in an office park, police said.
Witnesses said Tavel never made the curve and then never tried to get out after the car began to sink.
The investigation has not revealed what caused her to veer off the roadway. She died after the vehicle sank into 15 to 20 feet of water, police said
Ted E. Bailey, an investigator for the Gwinnett medical examiner, confirmed Tavel died of drowning. He said it would be 10 to 12 weeks before testing for alcohol and other substances would be completed. There was no serious trauma to her body or evidence of any “catastrophic natural disease,” he said.
Gwinnett County fire Capt. Tommy Rutledge said the vehicle was completely submerged when fire crews arrived but witnesses “were able to quickly pinpoint to us where the vehicle would be in the water.”
A dive team from Hall County also responded to the scene, Rutledge said.
“They were able to go out to the vehicle, remove the body and we’ve since removed the vehicle from the water,” he said.
“The witnesses reported to us that they saw the driver in the vehicle, and she wasn’t really making any attempt to try to exit the vehicle,” Rutledge said. “The vehicle floated out into the water, suddenly nosed into the water and began to quickly sink. All of this played out within a matter of moments, according to the witnesses.”
Some of those who knew Tavel shared their feelings about her passing on Twitter:
RIP Mrs Tavel. you were one of the best teachers I have ever had. you pushed me to the best I could be, I am so lucky to have known you. 💗— alpal (@GOLDringthebell) July 31, 2014
I was so very blessed to have had Mrs. Tavel as my teacher. Thank you for everything you did for me. Rest in peace❤️— Alex Weisberg (@alex_weisberg) July 31, 2014
rip mrs.tavel. best social studies teacher I've ever had. lucky to have known you💙— jenna marie (@jm_hall9) July 31, 2014
RIP Mrs. Tavel😔❤️ Really gonna miss seeing you at school everyday. You were always such a nice teacher and you'll be missed💖😓— kimi//65 (@whatevenR5) July 30, 2014
- Staff photographer Bob Andres and staff writer Mike Morris contributed to this report.