Autopsy shows Dickinson State students had no drugs or alcohol prior to accident
DICKINSON -- After three Dickinson State University softball players drowned in a stock pond northwest of Dickinson, final toxicology tests reveal drugs or alcohol were not involved.
After two fellow teammates received frantic, late night phone calls on Nov. 1, placed about a minute apart, a manhunt began for Kyrstin Gemar, 22, Ashley Neufeld, 21, and Afton Williamson, 20.
After using cell phone pings to narrow down a search area, the women were found Nov. 3 in Gemar's Jeep Cherokee, submerged in a 12-foot stock pond on private property.
Lt. Rod Banyai of the Dickinson Police Department confirmed the toxicology reports came back negative.
"It was just an unfortunate accident," Banyai said.
Several agencies, including the North Dakota Highway Patrol and the Stark County Sheriff's Office, assisted in the search, rescue and investigation.
Concluding an investigation, Capt. Tony Huck of the NDHP said it appeared the women may have been lost, driving back and forth in a zigzag pattern, perhaps in an attempt to exit the property.
"It appeared they steered two different directions before they got to the water," Huck said.
Speed would have been minimal upon entrance to the pond, estimated at 25 miles per hour or less, Huck said.
"The only reason that we're assuming it was going at a slower rate when it got closer to the water was because the way they steered back and forth," Huck said. "If you had any speed at all, you'd see some slide marks."
Huck said no brake tracks were found at the scene.
"You wouldn't be able to take that in excess of speed without the tires sliding," Huck said.
Questions linger as to if or how the women attempted an escape from the submerged vehicle.
Sgt. Bill Vance of the NDHP said the vehicle contained no evidence of an attempted escape.
"I'm sure they did (try) but I couldn't find anything on the interior that would indicate that," Vance said.
One assisting agency said there was possibly evidence of an escape attempt.
"There looks like on the back window there could have possibly been like a footprint on it on the inside, but it was kind of hard to tell with all that water," Banyai said. "The doors were closed and the windows were up."
Banyai said it is undeterminable how long the women were alive in the vehicle as the time of entrance into the water is unclear.
"It was quite some time before we even got a call," Banyai said.
No tools or devices capable of breaking a window were found in the vehicle, Vance said.
It is believed the three women were on a stargazing trip.
North Dakota does not require private property or no trespassing signs be posted in private lands, Banyai said.
"It wasn't posted no trespassing, so there was nothing legally stopping them from driving in there," Banyai said. "If you don't want the hunters or any trespassers, you have to post it. It has to be posted telling you that you can't enter it."
Most land in the pond's vicinity is private property.
"Everything is posted no trespassing around there, that's about the only gate that doesn't have it," Banyai said.