Car Located in Cedar River Near Blairs Ferry Road Bridge

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By Aaron Hepker

Blairs Ferry Road Bridge Over Cedar River
42.069047477502835 -91.7849349975586

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LINN COUNTY - The Linn County Sheriff’s Office found a car in the Cedar River near Palo Sunday. It’s still too early to know for sure, but Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner thinks it’s the car of 66 year-old Nancy Collins. The Atkins woman vanished two weeks ago, the same day someone spotted a car in the raging Cedar River.

"It probably is the vehicle we just can't confirm it at this point in time," said Gardner.

A passerby reported seeing a car in the river at the Blairs Ferry Road bridge March 14th. A search that night found nothing. The next day, deputies found possible tire tracks leading to the river. Spring flooding, though, made it too dangerous to search until recently. The eye-witness account matches up with where divers found the car Sunday.

That car, though, remains on the bottom of the river. Dive teams tried to attach tow cables to the car but the rushing water proved too strong and snapped the cables.

"The divers were struggling to stay even with the vehicle to attempt to hook up the tow bars and the tow chains just to get something onto the vehicle to pull," said Gardner.

He says divers will have to wait for the river level to drop and currents to slow down before they’ll be able to pull the car to shore.

"We actually have a marker and GPS coordinates on it so we'll be able to go right back into the water knowing exactly where it is," said Gardner.

The family of Nancy Collins has been waiting anxiously for word of their loved one’s fate. Collins owns the Collins Corner Pub and Eatery in Atkins. She was reported missing the same day as the eye-witness account of the car in the river. Collins frequently shopped in northeast Cedar Rapids and often drove over the bridge into Palo.

Sheriff Gardner says the high and fast-moving water made it impossible for divers to identify if the vehicle belongs to Collins or if anyone was inside the submerged car.

"We are making contact with the family to let them know what we've found so that there's no surprises there," said Gardner.

Gardner says it may be next weekend before the Cedar River drops enough for crews to try again to pull the car on shore.

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