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College student dies when car plunges into creek

Driver lost control of her vehicle at Oregon intersection

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Workers pull a car from Otter Creek in Oregon after a 20-year-old Eastern Michigan University student died in a crash there. Police said it was likely she was unfamiliar with the area.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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A woman killed Sunday when her car plummeted into the Otter Creek in Oregon was a 20-year-old college student who was likely lost and trying to find her way back to I-75, authorities said.

The Lucas County Coroner’s Office identified the victim as Bianca Bepler, who was a student at Eastern Michigan University.

Ms. Bepler was killed after she apparently lost control of her vehicle at the intersection of Millard Avenue and Otter Creek Road in Oregon and then went over the embankment into the icy Otter Creek, police said.

Authorities said they don’t know what time the incident happened, but a bicyclist riding southbound on Otter Creek Road about 10 a.m. Sunday noticed the black Chevrolet Impala partially submerged in the swampy area and alerted police.

They do believe the car had been in the water for several hours because ice had begun to refreeze around the car.

“This area is very dark in the evening hours and to come over the bridge and have this be a T-intersection and the road not continue and the way she busted through there, it looks like pretty fast, I think it was somebody not familiar with the area,” Oregon police Sgt. Chris Bliss said.

He said the car is registered to someone outside the local area, but it was not known yet if the woman is the owner of the car.

Sergeant Bliss said skid marks from the tires indicated the driver did not apply the brakes until she was in the intersection, and by then it was too late. The car crashed through the guardrail and flew at least 50 feet in the air before flipping over and plunging into the icy water.

“We don’t know how long the vehicle has been in the water prior to it being discovered, but there was ice formed around the vehicle, so we think it was in the water several hours,” he said.

An autopsy will be performed by the Lucas County Coroner’s Office.

Contact Marlene Harris-Taylor at: mtaylor@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.

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