Woman missing for 2 weeks found dead inside flipped car near Lake Tahoe
This story has been updated from a previous version and clarifies that, while the woman was pronounced dead on Monday, it’s unclear when the accident occurred.
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The body of a Northern Nevada woman who had been missing for two weeks was found Monday, Dec. 14, inside a vehicle that skidded off the highway and flipped down an embankment near Incline Village, officials said.
A photographer was shooting photos of Lake Tahoe at dusk Monday when he noticed the upside-down vehicle partly covered in snow in the trees below Highway 28 near Sand Harbor State Park, Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Duncan Dauber said Tuesday, Dec. 15.
NHP was dispatched to the scene at 4:56 p.m. Monday. Officials determined the vehicle — a 2000 green Subaru Outback driven by Betti Jean Fernandes, 72, of Sparks, Nevada — was traveling southbound on Highway 28 when it “drifted off the right paved shoulder down an embankment and overturned” before landing on its roof about 50 to 100 feet below.
Fernandes, the vehicle’s lone occupant, was pronounced dead at the scene Monday. According to NHP, she was not wearing a seat belt.
“It is still under investigation, per the Washoe County Coroner’s Office … whether it was a medical issue or injuries incurred during the course of the crash that caused Fernandes to pass,” officials said.
It’s unclear when the crash occurred, Dauber said.
“We don’t know when the accident happened … it appears that the crash happened prior to there being snowfall,” he said.
Whether that was before Sunday’s storm, or before last Thursday’s storm, was unknown as of Tuesday, Dauber said.
According to the Sparks Police Department, Fernandes had been reported missing since Nov. 30.
The southbound travel lane of Highway 28 was shut down for several hours while NHP and North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District officials investigated the scene.
Roads around Lake Tahoe and Truckee have been considerably icy after a pair of storms dumped more than 3 feet of snow across the region last Thursday through Sunday, followed by a significant drop in temperatures.