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Oklahoma couple drown when pickup is swept away in Cannonball River

Joan and Patrick Blake, of Arcadia, Oklahoma, were swept away in their truck after attempting drive across a low point in the Cannonball River in rural Hettinger County.

The Hettinger County Sheriff's Office responded to an incident on the Cannonball River on Sunday, May 1, 2022, resulting in the death of two Oklahoma residents.
The Hettinger County Sheriff's Office responded to an incident on the Cannonball River on Sunday, May 1, 2022, resulting in the death of two Oklahoma residents.
Contributed / Hettinger County Sheriff's Office
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MOTT, N.D. — Two senior citizens from Oklahoma perished after their 2017 F-250 pickup truck was swept into the Cannonball River in rural Hettinger County. The two 74-year-olds were residents of Arcadia, Oklahoma, visiting family in Mott.

Hettinger County Sheriff Sarah Warner said Joan and Patrick Blake were on a Sunday drive in a rural, remote area of the county with unreliable cell service when they attempted to drive across the river at a low crossing that was 4 feet in depth. This occurred near the intersection of 96th Avenue Southwest and 71st Street Southwest.

The vehicle lost its traction and went into the river. The couple called 9-1-1 at approximately 1 p.m. and told the dispatcher they were trapped as the water was as high as their doors.

“When first responders arrived on scene they were unable to locate the truck. A recovery mission was started and the Dickinson Rural Fire Department’s Dive Team was contacted,” Warner said.

Warner noted that at approximately 6:30 p.m., the dive team found the Blake’s vehicle located at about 1,600 feet to the east of the crossing.

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She added that the truck was submerged in about 15 feet of water. Once it was pulled out, both bodies were recovered.

The river current was swift, flowing at about 600 to 800 cubic feet per second. Water levels have risen significantly in southwest North Dakota amid snow melt following two blizzards in the past three weeks. The combined snowfall from each of those storms has totaled more than 45 inches in some parts of the region.

Warner also made a point to recognize all agencies involved in the response.

“The Hettinger County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Mott Fire and Rescue, Mott Ambulance, Regent Fire and Rescue, ND Highway Patrol, ND Bureau of Investigation, ND Game and Fish, Dickinson Dive Team and the Stark County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance with this incident,” she added.

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