Escape from sinking car nearly impossible for Apryl Foster

Escape from sinking car nearly impossible for Apryl Foster (Image 1)

It was the perfect storm of coincidental complications that contributed to the February death of Apryl Foster.

Foster disappeared the morning of Feb. 12 after a night of socializing and drinking at Ybor City bars. One contributing factor according to a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office report was that the inside door handle on the driver’s side of Foster’s car was missing.

“She had to get inside her vehicle and exit her vehicle through the passenger door. Anybody knows that’s cumbersome at best,” Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office detective Larry McKinnon stated.

According to the report, this coupled with the pressure of water on the door would make opening the door almost impossible. In addition, the report states Foster was intoxicated and her THC level was exceptionally high, which indicates she used marijuana very close to the time of her death. 

Last week the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner released the 33-year-old Brandon woman’s autopsy. It stated she drowned, and the contributing factor was intoxication. According to McKinnon, the night Foster disappeared, Feb. 12, was darker than usual. The report states the water temperature in Mango Lake was about 67 degrees. Cold shock could set in within minutes, resulting in a significant loss of manual dexterity.

After Foster disappeared her parents and Tampa police pleaded for information leading to her whereabouts. The community came together, putting her picture up on billboards as well as offering a reward for information leading to her whereabouts. 

According to the report, surveillance cameras spotted Foster in the Bad Monkey bar at 11 p.m. on Feb. 11. At 2:19 a.m. she left the Double Decker bar. Surveillance cameras recorded video of her walking down 7th Avenue.

She drove her red Chevrolet Aveo down 18th Street onto 7th Avenue. Cameras also spotted her driving on Broadway near Orient Road. Then she disappeared.

On Feb. 13, according to the report, boater William Revels felt the prop of his boat drag over something in the water. On Feb. 20 Revels was talking with a neighbor, Mark Choy. Choy told Revels that he hit something in the area as well. Revels wondered if someone dumped a car in the lake. He and his wife reviewed video surveillance of the boat ramp and discovered video of a car driving into the lake. They contacted the sheriff’s office. 

Divers located the vehicle and it was towed out of the lake. Investigators observed damage to the right head lamp and hood area. On the roof there were pattern marks consistent with prop marks from a boat. The left rear door was bent at the roof and left rear window was shattered.

The report states investigators observed a female lying supine in the back of the vehicle, with her legs in the front seat. All the windows were rolled up and doors were locked. The keys were in the ignition in the on position. The headlight selector was in the on position. 

Investigators determined Foster’s car struck the gate to the boat ramp, which was closed but unlocked. She continued eastbound across a crushed shell area of the boat ramp, then executed a right turn to travel south down the boat ramp.

The video obtained by investigators from Revel’s security system shows the vehicle stopped briefly at the water’s edge, rolled forward into the water, paused for 6 seconds, then the vehicle turned left into the water, eastbound, away from the boat dock.

The reported states Foster’s car became submerged within 58 seconds. Investigators found the driver’s seat partially reclined. The driver’s seat belt was partially extended, indicating it was in a position of use.

The vehicle was found in 7 feet of water, approximately 75 feet from the dock.

“There was a lot of factors here that weren’t going very well for her which could have created this perfect storm environment and then unfortunately it ended up with tragic results,” McKinnon said.

Copyright FLAB 2015.  All rights reserved.

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