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Lebanon man killed while trapped in flooded vehicle near Hazelgreen
HAZELGREEN, Mo. (March 31, 2010) — An overturned vehicle in the water resulted in an emergency call Monday evening for the Hazelgreen Rural Fire Protection District dive team, but rescue personnel ended up doing a body recovery rather than a rescue.

Rescue personnel took some time to locate the crash, but eventually found it near Mt. Pleasant Church on Highway N in Laclede County off Historic Route 66 in Laclede County near mile marker 140 of Interstate 44.

According to Missouri State Highway Patrol reports, Bruce H. Lamberton, 64, of Lebanon, had been driving a 1984 Chevrolet Blazer southbound on Route N at 7:50 p.m. when he ran off the right side of the roadway, overturned, struck a bridge, and came to rest in the water.

Shortly before the Hazelgreen dive team arrived, ambulance personnel were able to pull Lamberton out of the vehicle but it was already too late to save him. Lamberton, who had not been wearing his seat belt, was pronounced dead by Deputy Coroner Paul McMillan at 8:16 p.m. and was taken to Colonial Funeral Home in Lebanon.

Lamberton’s vehicle was totaled and was removed by Rothmund’s Towing.

Capt. Ann Price of the Hazelgreen Rural Fire Protection District said the crash happened when Lamberton’s vehicle flipped into the creek bed and landed on its top in the water.

Price warned that Monday’s incident is an example of how dangerous water can be, even when it doesn’t appear to be deep.

“The water was only two or three inches below the knee, but it was swift water and had flooded the vehicle and he could not get out,” Price said. “If you see water covering the roadway, it may be deeper than it looks, but even if it is not, it may be flowing a lot faster than you think. It doesn’t look like it’s running that fast, but often it does.”

Crossing a low-water bridge when it’s covered by water should never be done, she warned.

“If you are seeing a current you don’t want to cross it because you have a 90 percent chance of getting swept off that road,” she said.

If people do end up in the water, several steps are important, she warned.

“Keep your windows shut and wait for someone to get there instead of trying to get out,” Price said. “The biggest thing with people getting stuck in their cars is panic; try not to panic. Stay calm and try not to open up all the windows and let more water in.”

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