Family pleads to have mother’s body removed from river, 4 days after car accident

Posted at 6:36 AM, Jan 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-19 06:36:09-05

ISLETON, Calif. -- It's been four long and agonizing days for the family of Nichelle Johnson, who investigators believe is still inside her submerged car in the Sacramento River in Isleton, California.

"I just want them to help us get my mama out of that water," Johnson's daughter, Mikaela Hampton, told KTXL. "It's been too long. I just need answers. I just need closure. I don't know how I'm supposed to explain it to my baby."

Hampton shed tears as she talked about sharing the heartbreaking news with her 7-year-old son, telling him that grandma is never coming back.

Investigators believe Johnson, 48, somehow drove her car into the river Sunday night. A witness called 911 to report seeing the car in the water. Johnson, herself, dialed 911, but wasn't able to speak.

At the time of the accident, it was foggy and the river was running so fast that it was too dangerous to send a helicopter to fly over the area and put divers into the water, said the Sacramento Sheriff's Department.

It wasn't until the next day when sonar waves from the sheriff's department marine patrol boat were able to detect what appeared to be Johnson’s car near the river bank.

The family is now begging for anyone to help.

"Help get my mom out so we can lay her and put her to rest," Hampton said. "I feel so empty knowing it's my mom . She's never gonna walk in this door."

The sheriff's department says they're looking to outside agencies to get six volunteer divers and a larger boat to safely make the recovery.

But waiting is the most difficult part for the family. They believe authorities are not doing enough, "making no effort at all to go try and save her. They keep telling us all this stuff that we don't wanna hear," Johnson's son, Malik Davis said.

"We feel like we can just swim out there," Johnson's boyfriend, Johnnie Hines added. "Take a deep breath and go and get her, but we know you can't do that."

The family says she was a selfless soul who doesn't deserve to be left alone.