Woman dies at low-water crossing in Laclede County, Mo. Saturday

Published: Jan. 13, 2020 at 5:39 PM CST
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The Ozarks found itself in harms way when Friday's storm system unleashed its fury with flooding and tornadoes.

The only fatality in the storm happened at Auburn Road in secluded Laclede County, just outside Conway. It was there sometime between late Friday night and early Saturday afternoon that Kristi Yates, 53, perished in what we know so far as the only fatality attributed to the weather from this weekend's wild flooding and tornado frenzy in the Ozarks.

According to Laclede County Sheriff David Millsap, Yates, who recently moved to Phillipsburg from Grovespring, was going down the gravel road when she attempted to drive over a low water bridge on the Osage Fork of the Gasconade River.

The Conway Fire Department didn't discover this scene until Saturday afternoon at 1:05 p.m., but say Yates was last heard from around 10 Friday night, so investigators don't know if darkness played a role.

All they really know is Yates drowned trying to escape.

"The victim was trapped in some trees. It looks like she got out of the vehicle and tried to make her way back to shore," Millsap saiIt's going to be really hard to determine if there was a mechanical issue prior to the vehicle getting pushed off the bridge."

We've all heard the mantra "Turn around, don't drown". But there is a time when you may be unfamiliar with the road you're driving on and get caught up in the rising waters before you realize it.

Millsap says there's only one sure way to avoid that predicament.

"I would tell people when you know bad weather is imminent, it's just best to stay home," he said.

Then there's also the misconception that because we've made it across a low water bridge before, we can make it this time.

"Many of us who grew up in the country with pick up trucks and you've always got across that area before think we can make it and end up in a bad situation," Millsap said. "And there are just times when you need to think of the totality of things. 'Not only am I putting myself in danger but there's going to be a first responder that has to go out there too.' Let's not tempt fate."

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