ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida leads the nation in traffic accidents leading to drowning deaths with just over one traffic-related submersion drowning per week.
Basketball great Julius Erving lost his son, Cory, to a traffic accident drowning in 2000. Taking a dirt road shortcut to his family's Alaqua Lakes home, he drove his Volkswagen Passat into a retention pond and died.
Despite a widespread search of lakes and streams on the probable route he was driving home that night, it still took 5 1/2 weeks to find his sunken car.
The previous year, three Massachusetts tourists drove their rented SUV in to a retention pond near I-4 in Celebration. With no clear indication of the route the tourists were driving that night, it took nine months of searching to discover their tragic end.
Nationwide just under 400 people each year die in traffic accident drownings.
With its plentiful lakes, ponds and miles of coastline, Florida leads the country in the number of these immersion drownings, averaging just over one a week, followed by California and Texas.
In Central Florida, experts said the combination of older drivers, tourists not familiar with the area, and winding roads that border water, can have deadly consequences.
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