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Another dies as a result of SUV plunging into St. Croix River

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Farmington, 55024
Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

STILLWATER, Minn. -- A second victim has died as a result of an accident Sunday night when an SUV plunged into the St. Croix River at the Stillwater Marina.

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Authorities say that an Indian woman named Rohini Krishnamurthy, 27, died Tuesday afternoon.

Early Monday, Mohanraj Pothiraj, 28, of India, died as a result of the same incident.

Two other women - Deepa Veluswamy, 25; and Kalai Selvi Vijaya Kumar, 25, both also of India - were rescued and remained hospitalized at Regions late Tuesday.

Veluswamy was was listed in serious condition, while Kumar was listed in critical condition, a hospital spokeswoman said on Tuesday morning. Krishnamurthy's condition had been listed as critical Tuesday morning.

Details are beginning to emerge on the incident where the murky St. Croix River water swallowed four people and the sport-utility vehicle in which they were traveling.

The vehicle entered the river a few blocks north of Main Street, breaking through a thin layer of ice and traveling more than 30 feet from shore.

Pothiraj and one of the women called 911 separately from mobile telephones as the vehicle was submerging, shortly after 10 p.m.

A resident from a nearby condominium complex also reported the apparent accident and helped direct police and rescue workers to it.

"Hello we in the Stillwater, okay, and our car is sinking, now we in the water now. We are going to be submerged," Pothiraj said during a call he placed at 10:02 p.m., according to a transcript that authorities released Monday.

He identified himself as being near the marina's boat-rental area, but offered few specifics.

The woman, who was not identified in the transcript, called police at 10:04 p.m. She corroborated their location as being near a boat rental area, but said they were in a lake in Wisconsin.

As the water rose in the vehicle's cabin, police dispatchers instructed the occupants to try to break the windows and escape, however, they seemed unable to do so.

"The door is got stuck. The door is got stuck and we can't open, our fingers are frozen," the woman told police.

"We don't have swimming," Pothiraj said as seconds passed. " [We] are fully submerged and die now."

Sounds of frantic talking and pounding followed.

"We cannot open the window," Pothiraj said, offering his last words before the phone went dead.

Whether the vehicle slid or drifted to its resting place, authorities said they didn't know, and they did not speculate as to how or why the car ended up in the water.

Rescuers found the vehicle submerged and facing shore, with its headlights aglow and its roof about a foot beneath a canopy of 40-degree water. It rested near a ramp used at the marina to raise and lower large boats into the water.

By 10:05 p.m., the condo resident had called police and was guiding them to the submerged vehicle.

In near darkness and with no obvious signs of the vehicle's path, it took a few moments for police to find it. Within a few minutes, members of the Stillwater Fire Department Dive Team arrived to find the vehicle completely submerged.

Like the occupants, the divers were unable to open the vehicle's doors, although whether this was due to water pressure or the doors being locked was not immediately known.

No air bubbles were released when divers broke through a rear driver's side window. Even with bright lighting, divers could see only about a foot in the murky water.

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