By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
The Jones County Sheriff’s Office received a 9-1-1 call at 1:24 p.m. on Friday, June 1, when two anglers walked down to the Wapsipinicon River at Wapsipinicon State Park near Anamosa to fish. The anglers located an overturned car in the river near the Wapsipinicon Golf Course, submerged in approximately 4 to 5 feet of water.
According to a press release from Jones County Sheriff Greg Graver, at 1:28 p.m., a Jones County Deputy, an Iowa DNR Officer, a Jones County Conservation Officer and an Anamosa Police Officer arrived on scene. They entered the water and checked the overturned vehicle, a white 2007 Saturn Aura, for occupants. No occupants were located.
The Jones County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Anamosa Fire Department, began dragging the river and running the river bank for evidence or victims.
At 5:24 p.m., four hours after the accident, the Sheriff’s Office received reports of clothing hung up in the middle of the Wapsi River. This was about 0.4 miles downstream from Shaw Road Bridge, or about 1.5 miles downstream from where the vehicle entered the river.
At 5:44 p.m., a Jones County Patrol Deputy arrived on scene, followed by the Jones County Sheriff’s boat. They identified the “object” as that of a female body. Based on a description from the family and co-workers, they identified the victim as that of 30-year-old Nicole Ann Cox of Stanwood, Iowa. Cox was an elementary school guidance counselor for the Anamosa School District. She was the only person inside the car. Cox’s body was turned over to the Jones County Medical Examiner. An autopsy was performed on June 2 to determine the cause of death.
Cox’s husband, co-workers, friends and family were on scene during the investigation and identity of the body.
The Iowa State Patrol is investigating the accident leading to Cox’s vehicle ending up in the Wapsi River. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is assisting the Jones County Sheriff’s Office with gathering information and evidence leading up to the vehicle in the river.
Officials said Cox’s car failed to negotiate a sharp curve in Wapsi State Park. Graver did not suspect foul play or suicide.
In a quote from Sheriff Graver, “There was indication by the tire tracks that the vehicle was turning when it went into the river. It did not go straight off and straight into the river.”
Assisting on scene were the Anamosa Police Department, Iowa State Patrol, Jones County Conservation Enforcement, Iowa DNR Enforcement, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Anamosa Fire Department, Anamosa Ambulance, Jones County Medical Examiner, State Medical Examiner, Jones County Emergency Manager and the American Red Cross.
PHOTO Top: At around 1:30 p.m. on June 1, the Jones County Sheriff’s Office received a call of a car overturned in the Wapsipinicon River at Wapsi State Park. Here, an Iowa State Patrol officer and Jones County Sheriff’s Deputies inspect the car as it sits in the river. Bottom: Red’s Towing in Anamosa pulls the car belonging to victim Nicole Cox of Stanwood out of the Wapsi River. Cox’s body was located about a mile and a half downstream from the accident site. (Photos by Kim Brooks)