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Obituary: Woman in pond crash was disabled

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news Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

The husband of the 61-year-old woman found dead after her car careened into a pond Aug. 9 outside Cabela's said Wednesday his family is beginning to cope with the unexpected loss.

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Jane Strong, of rural Mitchell, was identified last week as the driver and only occupant of the vehicle that plunged into the pond outside Cabela's in Mitchell and sank into about 18 feet of water. Strong was pronounced dead on the scene after rescue workers spent more than two hours extracting her car from the murky pond. Investigators are still unsure what caused the crash.

"It's getting easier now, but it's been tough," said Randy Strong, Jane Strong's husband. He said the unexpected nature of his wife's death made coping with the loss even more difficult.

According to police reports, Strong's car had been traveling west on Spruce Street when it entered the Holiday Inn Express lot, struck an entrance sign and a parked van, and continued west into a grassy area. The vehicle then did a swooping curve and went over concrete barriers and into the pond.

"You don't expect it to be your family when something happens like that," he said. The couple was married for more than 22 years.

According to eyewitness reports of the crash, several bystanders leapt into the pond in attempts to rescue Strong when her vehicle began to sink.

"I would like to thank everybody that tried to help her," Randy Strong said. "They can only do so much under circumstances like that."

He said it was some relief that no one else was hurt in the crash.

An autopsy report authorities hope will provide better insight into the cause of the crash is expected to be completed later this month or in early September, said Mitchell Police investigator Joel Reinesch on Wednesday.

"Whatever we're able to get from a pathologist is going to be our best clue in regards to what happened," he said.

In the time since the crash, police have conducted more interviews with witnesses, but Reinesch said those interviews have only confirmed information already known to investigators. In Strong's full obituary, printed on Page A6 of today's edition, it notes Strong was disabled, but does not provide further details.

Reinesch said Strong's medical history has been considered in the investigation, but he is unable to release any information about it. He hopes the case can be solved soon, especially for the sake of Strong's family.

"They need the closure as well," he said.

Strong's obituary says she was born in Farwell, Neb., moved to Mitchell when she was 11 years old and graduated from Mitchell High School in 1969. It goes on to say Strong worked as a nurse in a pediatric ward in Rochester, Minn., for 15 years before returning to Mitchell and working at several area nursing homes and other businesses. Eventually, the obituary says, she became disabled and unable to work. It notes she enjoyed shopping, reading books, crossword puzzles, yellow roses, angels, hearts and Black Hills Gold jewelry.

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