SUV swept downstream found after nearly 2 weeks; driver cited

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PRESCOTT -- A new SUV that was swept away when the owner attempted to cross a stream was found after nearly two weeks.

On March 31, Yavapai County sheriff's deputies were called to assist a motorist whose 2010 Kia Sportage had floated away while he attempted to drive through Mormon's Crossing.

Erik Naedler, 39, of Oak Creek, explained that after driving one-third of the distance across the stream, he felt something was wrong. He put the SUV in reverse and started to back out, but the current began to take the vehicle downstream.

Yavapai County sheriff's spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn said the vehicle began filling with water and the driver couldn't open the door. He was able to roll down a window and exit the vehicle as it continued downstream.

Naedler grabbed a tree limb and was about 100 yards from the road crossing. He made it to shore, but his vehicle had disappeared.

Naedler located a resident in the area and called 911 to report the incident. Deputies searched downstream for about 200 yards, but were unable to locate the Kia.

Naedler was cited for criminal littering/polluting of a waterway.

D'Evelyn said the Kia was located approximately 300 yards from the crossing on April 11 as water levels began subsiding.

There are no roads to access the area and removal is pending reduced water levels.

The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office warns drivers about the danger of attempting river crossings. Water flow rates and levels remain high due to continued snow melt-off in the surrounding areas.