Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg mother dies after driving into retention pond

James Wolfe answered his wife's phone call early Monday and heard the fear.

"I could hear the panic in her voice,'' he said. "She was freaking out."

Jennifer Wolfe's minivan had veered off northbound 28th Street N about 12:30 a.m., crossed southbound lanes and slid down an embankment into a retention pond.

Now the 2004 Honda Odyssey was sinking, and his wife was unable to open the door.

"The water was rising, and she couldn't get out," James Wolfe said. "There was nothing she could do to get out of the van."

Wolfe called 911 and then tried to find his wife.

She had gone out for a quick trip to Walmart. She told him the street she was on, and he began searching online maps and trying to connect to a locator on her cellphone.

By the time he pinpointed her location and arrived at the scene near 28th Street and Roosevelt Boulevard, it was too late. Police had already blocked off the pond.

"She just wanted me to come get her, but I couldn't," James Wolfe said. "I just couldn't."

Jennifer Wolfe, 35, had tried to call police herself, but the call was cut off before she ever spoke with a dispatcher.

Police said it was unclear whether she might have tried to escape another way, such as through a window, but that an autopsy may reveal more.

Although initial reports said she had been run off the road, James Wolfe said she told him that another car had cut in front of her and that she ended up in the water after swerving to avoid another vehicle.

Police said they have little to go on in the search for a possible second driver.

Police didn't find Wolfe's van until a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office helicopter scoured the area from above. Divers went into the water about 1:30 a.m., broke a window and pulled Wolfe from her seat.

She was taken to Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg, where she was pronounced dead.

Divers also found an abandoned car near the van. It did not have a license plate and showed signs of having been in the water for a lengthy period, police said.

James Wolfe said his wife was "a dedicated wife and mother." She was earning A's in a nursing program, and Wolfe said she excelled as a parent to their 9- and 11-year-old boys.

"She always did things for the boys, but at the same time she would show them how to do things so they could do it for themselves the next time," he said.

The family, which lives in the 500 block of Trinity Lane N, moved here about a year ago from Memphis and has no relatives in the area.

"Hopefully, we can find a life here," Wolfe said. "Find a way to move on."

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Claire Wiseman can be reached at cwiseman@tampabay.com or (727)-893-8804. Follow @clairelwiseman on Twitter.

Safety tips

If your vehicle is headed underwater, authorities recommend the following:

On the way down, try to unbuckle your seat belt and open a window. This could allow you to swim to safety.

If the vehicle is sinking rapidly, stay calm and wait for the car to fill with water. If you have time, shed heavy clothing such as shoes that could bog you down as you swim. Once the pressure is equalized, you should be able to open the door or break out a window.

Keeping a hammer in your glove box or other location inside your car could help you break the glass. Remember that windows are made of weaker glass than windshields and should be easier to break if you need to swim to safety.

St. Petersburg mother dies after driving into retention pond 03/10/14 [Last modified: Monday, March 10, 2014 11:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  2. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  3. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case

    Crime

    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
  5. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101