Woman drowns after driving into floodwaters in Northern California

A flooded Interstate 5 snarled traffic for miles on Saturday in Northern California.
(Andrew Seng / Associated Press)

A 45-year-old woman drowned over the weekend after driving around road closures and into floodwaters in the Northern California town of Orland.

The drowning was reported about 9:05 a.m. Saturday after someone saw the woman drive past a road closure sign on a rural county road used by residents, said Undersheriff Todd James of the Glenn County Sheriff’s Office. The woman was later identified as Orland resident Nicole Dufour.

After driving around the closure, Dufour’s vehicle floated downstream into Hambright Creek. Her vehicle was completely submerged, he said.

According to the National Weather Service, when rescue teams arrived, “the water was so deep there was no sign of a vehicle.”


A California Highway Patrol helicopter flew over the area and spotted a portion of the vehicle’s side mirror peeking from floodwaters, James said.

The sheriff’s office sent a dive team to look for Dufour’s vehicle, he said. Divers later found Dufour inside her overturned vehicle.

According to the undersheriff, the creek runs through the county road, so it often floods during heavy rainfall. The sheriff’s office often closes the road during powerful storms.

Roads throughout Northern California were flooded with storm water over the weekend.


The flooding continued Tuesday, affecting communities in Modesto and San Jose.

Television footage showed vehicles submerged in floodwaters and rescuers using rafts to reach residents trapped inside their homes.

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