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UPDATE: River crash claims life of Woodbury native, 21

A Woodbury woman was killed early New Year’s Day after her vehicle crashed into the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wis.

Police on Thursday identified the woman as Ellen Marie Ahmann, a 21-year-old who was attending Winona State University. La Crosse Police Sgt. Randy Rank said Ahmann was working part-time in La Crosse at a tavern.

According to a news release, police and firefighters were called at 1:27 a.m. for a possible vehicle in the river.

A city transit worker had witnessed tire tracks going off the road, down a steep embankment and out onto the ice, where a vehicle was seen falling through a hole in a Mississippi River back channel known as Swift Creek.

Authorities deployed underwater cameras and found the vehicle submerged in about 6 to 8 feet of water. The vehicle, containing the lone occupant, was removed from the water on Wednesday afternoon.

Rank said investigators were trying to piece together why Ahmann continued driving straight on Jackson Street, which terminates along the river’s edge.

“There’s no reason she should have gone straight there,” he said, adding that there was no indication the vehicle’s brakes were applied.

An autopsy was expected to be performed Friday. The crash remained under investigation, the release states.

Rank said it was unknown if alcohol was a factor in the crash, but noted that investigators are awaiting toxicology results from the La Crosse County Medical Examiner’s Office.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Ahmann was an accounting student at Winona State and had expected to graduate this year. 

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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