South Lake Tahoe officials: Woman trapped in car may have died had snowplow not hit it |

South Lake Tahoe officials: Woman trapped in car may have died had snowplow not hit it

Authorities say a snowplow operator inadvertently bumped into a car buried in snow and found a woman unharmed inside.
City of South Lake Tahoe via AP

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A transient woman could have died had a city plow not struck the snow-covered vehicle Feb. 17.

City officials held a press conference Thursday to provide additional information on the incident, which made national news earlier this week.

The 48-year-old woman was discovered after a city plow operator hit the vehicle, which was buried in snow on Cedar Avenue near Stateline. The plow was traveling less than 4 mph.

The vehicle may have already had a large amount of snow on it when the woman entered it approximately four or five hours prior to the plow hitting it, according to Ray Jarvis, public works director. The amount of snow that day completely buried the car and she became trapped.

Had the snowplow not hit the woman’s car, she may have died in the vehicle, Jarvis said.

The vehicle’s trunk popped open after it was hit. The woman was discovered when she placed her hand on the window.

South Lake Tahoe police officers were dispatched to the scene and they eventually aided in digging the vehicle out of the snow.

The woman was offered medical attention but declined, according to Lt. David Stevenson of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department.

Her identity is being withheld because city officials “do not want to embarrass the woman because she is homeless,” said Chris Fiore, city communications director.

The woman was not cited for being parked illegally, according to Stevenson, and the snowplow driver was not cited or subjected to disciplinary action.

Damage to the vehicle was not significant.

The woman’s location is unknown because she left after being found, Stevenson said.

City officials urged residents and visitors to keep their vehicles off streets during snowstorms. Incidents where people’s cars are buried in the snow are a common occurrence.

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