3470 Club Center Boulevard, Naples, FL
EAST NAPLES — The frantic search for a woman who called 911 as her car was filling with water Tuesday evening in a retention pond at the Fiddler's Creek development near Marco Island ended with the discovery of her death.
Mary J. Catania, 58, of Naples, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Florida Highway Patrol, which is conducting an investigation into her death.
"We got a call at 9:04 p.m. with someone saying their vehicle had gone into a body of water in the Fiddler's Creek area," Collier County Sheriff's Office Spokeswoman Karie Partington said at 9:46 p.m.
The resultant search involved Sheriff's Office deputies, Collier Emergency Medical Services ambulances, Isle of Capri fire fighters and the Fiddler's Creek Community Patrol. Fiddler's Creek is located off Collier Boulevard south of U.S. 41.
Two helicopters were also involved in the search, including MedFlight and a Sheriff's Office helicopter that launched shortly after the call with a member of the Sheriff's Office dive team inside.
Sheriff's Office dispatchers "pinged" the caller's cell phone attempting to determine the location, Partington said. Radio reports suggested dispatchers lost contact with the woman as she said the water rose to the roof of the car.
Around 9:30 p.m., radio reports suggested the Sheriff's Office learned the glow of headlights could be seen coming from a pond in the development. Bubbles were also seen rising from the pond, the radio reports suggested.
The Sheriff's Office helicopter landed in the area of the pond, and Partington later confirmed the location of the incident had been discovered.
"The dive team is responding," Partington said at the time. "At this point, it looks like it will be a recovery."
Florida Highway Patrol officials were then called to investigate.
Catania's silver 2009 Hyundai Sonata was pulled from the pond, located west of the intersection of Sandpiper Drive and Fiddler's Creek Parkway about two miles east of the community's main entrance on Collier Boulevard.
FHP Trooper Jeff Benoit conducted the accident investigation and determined that Catania was driving north on Sandpiper Drive toward Fiddler's Creek Parkway before the accident.
At the intersection, for unknown reasons Catania did not stop at the stop sign, drove over the curb and onto the north shoulder of Fiddler's Creek Parkway, struck shrubbery on the shoulder, and then went into the lake, Benoit's report said.
Catania was wearing her seatbelt, and a toxicology analysis was being conducted to see if alcohol was a factor, Benoit said. Benoit said a separate ongoing investigation is examining why Catania did not stop and what led to her death.