Family pleads to have mother’s body removed from river, 4 days after car accident

Posted at 11:09 PM, Jan 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-18 23:09:48-05

ISLETON, Calif. -- It's been four long and agonizing days for the family of Nichelle Johnson, who investigators believe is inside her submerged car, in the Sacramento River in Isleton, California.

"I just want them to help us get my mama out of that water. It's been too long. I just need answers. I just need closure," Johnson's daughter, Mikaela Hampton, told KTXL. "I don't know how I'm supposed to explain it to my baby."

Hampton shed tears of anguish as she talked about sharing the heartbreaking news with her 7-year-old son, telling him that grandma is never coming back.

Investigators believe Johnson, 48, somehow drove her car into the river Sunday night. A witness called 911 to report seeing the car in the water. Johnson, herself, dialed 911, but wasn't able to speak.

The Sacramento Sheriff's Department says, at the time of the accident, it was foggy and the river was running so fast that it was too dangerous to send a helicopter to fly over the area and put divers into the water.

It wasn't until the next day, when sonar waves from their marine patrol boat were able to detect what appeared to be Johnson’s car near the river banks.

The family is now begging for anyone to help.

"Help get my mom out so we can lay her and put her to rest. I feel so empty knowing it's my mom . She's never gonna walk in this door," Hampton said.

The sheriff's department says they're looking to outside agencies to get six volunteer divers and a larger boat, to safely make the recovery.

But waiting is the most difficult part for this family. They believe not enough is being done to bring Johnson back to her family.

"Making no effort at all to go try and save her. They keep telling us all this stuff that we don't wanna hear," Johnson's son, Malik Davis said.

"We feel like we can just swim out there. Take a deep breath and go and get her, but we know you can't do that," Johnson's boyfriend, Johnnie Hines added.

They say she was a selfless soul, who doesn't deserve to be left alone.

"If she didn't have, she'd make sure you had. 'I'll get mine's later. But you have this right now,'" Johnson's brother-in-law, Darrell Pinily said.

"She was too giving. She was always the one to do for the next person," her son added.