Mom found dead after infant saved in dramatic lake rescue

2017-03-17 22:13


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St Louis - A woman found dead in a St Louis-area lake was identified on Friday as the mother of an infant rescued hours earlier by a paramedic, who performed CPR on the hood of the submerged SUV in which the child was found floating shortly after a fatal fire erupted at their home.

The coroner in nearby Madison County, Illinois, released the information as investigators tried to untangle the events that preceded the death of the woman, 32-year-old Cristy Lynn Campbell.

Six of her children escaped the fire on Thursday morning at her house in Glen Carbon, Illinois, but a man in the house was killed. 

Campbell's ex-husband, 37-year-old Justin Campbell, lived at the home and remains unaccounted for. Court records show they had a volatile relationship, with several reports of domestic violence.

About 15 minutes after the fire was reported, a passing motorist spotted an SUV driving down a hill and into Silver Lake in Highland, Illinois, about 25km from the fire scene.

Highland paramedic Todd Zobrist arrived quickly, jumped into the 7°C water and swam 15- to 21m to the SUV, where he found the 3-month-old boy floating inside the car.

Zobrist pulled the baby by the arm to the hood of the SUV, where he began CPR, then swam with the child to shore. The child, initially unresponsive, is expected to recover.

"He definitely saved the child's life," Highland Emergency Medical Services chief Brian Wilson said.

After finding the baby, authorities began searching the water. Cristy Campbell's body was pulled from the lake on Thursday around 11:15, about six hours after the SUV plunged into the lake.


Before they married, Justin Campbell was charged with domestic abuse in 2005. He was accused of attacking Cristy Campbell, known then as Cristy Brueggemann, when she was pregnant by slapping her in the head. He was sentenced in March 2006 to probation and fined $500.

Despite the violence, they wed on November 3 2006. She filed for legal separation in September 2010, but the matter was dismissed two months later.

In April 2012, Cristy Campbell obtained an emergency protection order against her husband and filed for divorce. She alleged in court papers that he "abuses me on a weekly basis" including punching and choking her.

"He has told me that I'm a no good wife," Campbell wrote in her application for the protection order.

The divorce was granted in February 2013.

Lakin said Glen Carbon police have answered several calls to Campbell's home, including some "domestic-related situations". He declined to elaborate.

"The Glen Carbon Police Department was aware of that house," Lakin said.

Authorities said the children are with Illinois authorities and will be placed with relatives.

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