Friends, coworkers remember woman, child lost to flooding

 

Authorities have released the names of the pregnant woman and her child who died after their car was swept down a flooded creek in Berks County.

Pamela Snyder, 31, and her son, Preston Dray, 9, were found dead inside their car in Douglass Township late Thursday night, police said.

Snyder, who was eight months pregnant, and her son were driving home when heavy rain caused flooding around the area. She called 911 when she got stuck in a flash flood, and her car was swept into a rain-swollen Manatawny Creek, police said.

"She described it as the nose of her car was in the water and the water was up to the steering wheel," said Chief John Dzurek, Douglass Township Police Department.

Emergency crews were dispatched to Pine Forge Road, near the Colebrookdale Railroad overpass, around 4:30 p.m.

"Even the fire department and rescue team had trouble getting in because just about every road in the township had some sort of obstacle, which made rescue efforts extremely difficult to try to get to her," Dzurek said Friday.

Multiple crews tried to rescue them, but they couldn't get to the car.

"Officers attempted to gain access to the female in the vehicle, but unfortunately met the same dangers of the high rising waters and current, and we were unable to get close enough to see the vehicle," Dzurek said.

Snyder was on the phone with emergency officials for about 45 minutes before the line disconnected.

Water rescue teams spent hours searching for the car in the flooded creek. The woman and boy were found dead inside the car around 9:45 p.m., a half-mile downstream from where they were at the time of the initial 911 call.

"This was apparently not her normal route going home, but unfortunately, like every other traveler in the township at the time, was running into these road blocks, flooded roadways, trees down, on just about every road," Dzurek said.

Authorities said Snyder was not driving through high water when the car was swept away.

"I've been here for 14, going on 15 years. I've seen six inches, seven inches of rain fall in this area over days, but I've never seen it fall in this short amount of time, and the devastation this township incurred is unforeseen," Dzurek said. "My heart goes out to the family. It's just a very sad day for them."

Snyder's mother-in-law said on Facebook the family was planning to have Snyder's baby shower on Sunday.

The Boyertown Area School District said in a letter to the community that Dray was a student at Pine Forge Elementary School.

The district said it has implemented its crisis plan to "provide an appropriate response to the situation." It is offering grief counseling to students.

Counselors are available at Pine Forge Elementary School to assist students until approximately 3:30 p.m. They will also be available on Monday, July 15, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Anybody with questions can call the Student Services Department at the Education Center at 610-369-7548.

GoFundMe accounts were set up to raise money for the family and funeral expenses.