Bodies found in sunken SUV identified as Garden City couple

SMITHS FERRY -- Two people found dead inside a SUV that plunged into the Payette River last month were identified Friday as a married couple from Garden City.

According to the Valley County Coroner, the victims are 71-year-old William L. Ziegert and 72-year-old Julane Ziegert. The Ziegerts lived part of the time in McCall, according to sheriff's officials.

The couple's dog was also found dead inside the Jeep Cherokee.

The Ziegerts are believed to have crashed into the river just north of Smiths Ferry June 24.

Witnesses say their SUV went off Idaho 55 at a curve in the road before plunging down the embankment, hitting a rock, and entering the water. A man inside the Cherokee was seen struggling to get out of the vehicle before it sank from view.

RELATED: 1 presumed dead after SUV plunges into Payette River

The bodies and the sunken SUV were recovered from the river at about noon Thursday. The Valley County Sheriff and coroner say they have reached out to the Ziegerts' family "and offered our sympathy and assistance in this emotionally challenging time."

Water flow through Cascade Dam was reduced and the highway was down to one lane to aid the recovery efforts Thursday. Divers from the Gem County Sheriff’s Office and the Boise Scuba Center found a 2017 Jeep Cherokee upside down in the river. 

 

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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