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Floodwater Adds Risk For Northeast Drivers

November 7, 2011, 6:20 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Floodwater Adds Risk For Northeast Drivers
CLAIRE CITY, SD - The landscape in Roberts County proved deadly after three people were killed in an accident.

Authorities recovered three bodies from a flooded slough near Claire City over the weekend. The South Dakota Highway Patrol says 47-year-old Alberta Harwood of Sisseton was driving and lost control on a county road before going into the water.  Her passengers, 54-year-old Exzilda Seaboy of Sisseton and 65-year-old Cleone Pewamo of Sioux Falls, were also found in the car.

A week had passed from the time a car with three people inside entered the slough to the time anyone knew where they were. Locals say there are several places in northern Roberts County where the exact same thing could happen.

"People aren't aware how deep it is some places, eight to ten feet deep right off the gravel," Curtis Hillestad said. "No room for error once you get off the edge of the road with equipment or cars or pick-ups or anything."

Hillestad of Claire City figures there's four to five times the water there used to be in the area. And plenty of it is sitting right along roads.

"It's not just taking over a lot of farmland; it's hazardous to people," Jeremy Ceroll said.

Ceroll lives near the Roberts County slough where authorities pulled the car from the water. Drivers have ended up in the water elsewhere throughout the northeast this year as well.

Spink County had a couple cars in the water this spring. Authorities in Day and Brown Counties dealt with the same problem as well.

"I guess everyone that lives here is kind of aware of that. But people that go through northeastern South Dakota that's something you have to be aware of," Hillestad said.

So he's urging drivers to be careful, especially on side roads. Some of the water in northern Roberts County has been drained enough to get roads above the surface again. But some of those still have deep water right along side them.

The Highway Patrol is still investigating the accident.

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