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By: Bill MeluginEL PASO, Texas – A 64-year-old woman drowned when police said her vehicle ended up in a drainage canal in Northeast El Paso Monday morning. El Paso police said they were called out to the intersection of Diana Drive and Vulcan Avenue just after 6:30 Monday morning due to reports of a vehicle that had gone into a drainage ditch overflowing with floodwaters.
Constance Manzanares was found inside a submerged 2005 Toyota Corolla and died, police said. A witness told KFOX14 that police stopped several men from trying to save the victim. A witness to the drowning, who requested anonymity, said she saw the woman moving her hands inside the car and that police stopped three men from attempting to get her out. "They went and tried to help this lady, they tried to help her, but the police said they can't, they were yelling and everything, I don't wanna say nothing bad about them, I know they give good service here and everything, but I said 'Oh, my God,'" the witness said. "They hit the window on the driver's side, and she tried to get out but there's a fence right there, and she couldn't get out. So she had all that weight with her and all the water inside. The men got scared, they didn't want to leave, they were mad, so they got scared, people were yelling so they had to leave before they got arrested." The story about police telling men to leave was backed up by several people who live on Vulcan Avenue right next to where the drowning took place. However, KFOX14 cannot confirm if the woman was dead or alive at that time. The witness said that 10-15 minutes later, the waters started to go down and she could see a black mass inside and realized it was the woman. "There were ambulances, there was the Fire Department, helicopters, airplanes, I said 'Oh, my God, they're not doing anything about it,' so she passed away," said the witness. KFOX14 asked EPPD about the men allegedly being told by police not to help but was told that the department's Special Traffic Investigations unit is conducting its investigation.
Police said STI will continue its investigation to determine Manzanares’ route that led her into the water-filled canal. The witness said the woman was trapped in the car for about an hour and a half before her body was removed, covered up and placed in a coroner's van. "They assumed she was dead, but I don't know. Nobody was there to say if she was dead; that's why [the men] went to try and help her," she said. She also pointed out that the portion of Diana where the car was swept into the canal has no curb or concrete barrier to stop a vehicle from falling in. The witness said it appeared to her that everyone just stood around and watched as the woman possibly died in her car, as nobody knew if she was still alive or not. "We thought they were going to rescue her or come and do something, CPR, take her out, something, they have the tools, everyone had the tools, but they didn't do anything. Nothing, they didn't even touch the water," she said. "It's so sad. If it was my mother or my sister or someone, I would've gone and tried to rescue her."
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