JC teacher drowns when car plunges into pond

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GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. – Gwinnett County authorities have identified a woman who died after her car inexplicably left the road and plunged into a retention pond in Peachtree Corners as Laura Jones Tavel, 53, who had been a teacher at River Trail Middle School the last 13 years.

According to Gwinnett Police around 7:30 a.m., Tavel’s silver 2000 Honda CR-V was making a curve while traveling east on Peachtree Corners Circle. Suddenly, the car veered right and into a retention pond. Peachtree Corners Circle is a convenient cut-through between Peachtree Parkway and Medlock Bridge Road.

Although witnesses told police the car floated for a few moments before sinking upright, Tavel was not able to get out of the vehicle.

When police arrived, the car had submerged, said Cpl. Ed Ritter of the Gwinnett Police Information Office. Lacking equipment or a boat, the officers at the scene could not find the car.

The Hall County Fire Department’s dive team had to be called in to locate the car and recover the body. With witnesses to direct them, the divers found both in about 20 feet of water.

Police said they weren’t able to discover why Tavel went off the road. She was not traveling at a high rate of speed, and no other vehicle was involved.

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