Latonya Bell and daughter Havana Pipkins of Cleveland die in fatal Braxton Co. car crash – Sunday, May 1, 2022

Braxton Co. car crash death of Latonya Bell and daughter Havana Pipkins of Cleveland – Obituary

The Braxton County Sheriff’s Department is still investigating the cause of a deadly accident that occurred in the county on Sunday afternoon.

The two victims were named as Latonya Bell, 42, and her daughter Havana Pipkins, 8, both of Cleveland, Ohio, by the police department on Monday afternoon.

Their SUV sank into the icy waters of the Elk River at the I-79 exit for Sutton on Sunday afternoon. John Forbush, a member of the Gassaway Volunteer Fire Department, drowned during the rescue effort. He was one of six persons who plunged into the river in an attempt to help the victims.

Another person who went in was Tom Skeens, a retired firefighter who believes Forbush was immobilized by the water temperature.

“The water temperature was most likely around 38 degrees.” “I’d assume it was hypothermic shock because a spectator stated he heard John cry that he didn’t believe he’d make it back and then they lost sight of him,” Skeens told MetroNews.

Skeens stated that he barely made it back to shore. He, a state policeman, and two members of the Frametown Volunteer Fire Department opened the sunroof and dragged the female driver out of the waterlogged vehicle. He stated that another person had busted out the rear window of the vehicle and that he and Forbush were attempting to locate the youngster. Both the mother and her kid drowned. Skeens stated that Forbush’s body was discovered around 45 minutes later.

“I almost didn’t come back out since the water was so cold when I plunged in just after he fell under,” he added.

“I dove in and we pulled the mother out of the car,” he recalled, “but we had no idea where he was.”

The Braxton County Sheriff’s Department is still investigating how the automobile ended up in the river. It entered the lake from the Braxton County Senior Center’s parking lot. The facility is located just off I-79’s Sutton exit, and it’s unclear whether the victim had any links to the senior center or whether she just happened to come there.