A woman apparently took a wrong turn and drove into a lake, drowning herself and three young girls, authorities said Thursday.
Dr. Karen Lynn Gilhooly, 46, was taking her daughter and two classmates to a dance concert Wednesday evening when the car plunged into Long Lake.
Gilhooly may have taken a wrong turn onto a road that ends at a boat launch. She turned a short distance ahead of another road that goes toward the arts center where the concert was held. A sign warns that the road ends, but it was dark and raining lightly, authorities said.
“There is no indication of excessive speed or any other factor except mistaken location,” Grand Traverse County Undersheriff Nathan Alger said.
The children killed were Sierra Fetterolf, 11, Anna Lynn Maas, 10, and Rowan Sanford, Gilhooly’s 10-year-old daughter. Anna was pulled out alive by a dive team but died Thursday at a hospital in Grand Rapids, about 130 miles south of Long Lake Township.
Lou Beam, whose waterfront house is near the boat launch, realized what happened only after rescue vehicles arrived.
“There’s not even a skid mark showing they tried to brake,” Beam said. “It’s a shame -- just hard to believe.”
He said the water was about 20 feet deep where the car went into the lake. Mourners had left a bouquet of pink and purple flowers Thursday on a nearby wooden dock.
An 85-year-old man drowned in a submerged car in 2002 at the same spot, but authorities said at the time his death may have been a suicide.
“I don’t think it’s dangerous,” Beam said. “There’s a lot of people who drive down here. They look at the lake and leave.”
The girls attended the Montessori Children’s House and Elementary School near Traverse City.
“They have been classmates since they were 3,” said Gretchen Uhlinger, head of the school. “They were dear friends.”
Gilhooly, a physician, designed a health-education program for children and taught as a volunteer weekly at the school, Uhlinger said.