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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Missing Waynesville woman assumed dead

  • WAYNESVILLE – Details have emerged in a case involving a mother and her child who were swept away by floodwaters earlier this week.
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  • Details have emerged in a case involving a mother and her child who were swept away by floodwaters earlier this week.
    Pulaski County Sheriff Ron Long said the body of 4-year-old Elyjah M. Lee was recovered in Waynesville on Tuesday, but his single mother, Jessica D. Lee, 23, of Waynesville, has yet to be found.
    At about 4:52 a.m. Tuesday, dispatchers received a call about a woman who was trapped on top of her SUV in a washed-out creek near the area of Ichord Boulevard and Interstate 44 in Waynesville.
    Long said Lee's vehicle was washed away into a small creek near Southside Road, located south of I- 44, which carried the vehicle underneath the interstate 300 yards and near G.W. Lane.
    Police officials recovered the vehicle shortly after the child's body was found in Mitchell Creek around 7:45 a.m. Tuesday.
    After being swept away, Jessica Lee was able to make a 911 call and spoke to a relative on her cellphone, notifying both parties she and her child were in peril.
    Some personal items have been discovered in and near where the vehicle was discovered.
    Long said that, due to the circumstances, "all factors indicate that [Jessica Lee] has probably perished in the flood waters.
    More than 50 individuals, including police dogs, volunteers, and members local fire departments and EMS, have been brought in to assist efforts to recover Lee's body.
    Officials have notified Lee's family members of the situation.
    "I don't see how anyone could have survived her situation," Long said. "This is a very responsible individual. As rapid as that water was it was like a raging river. It was a Class V whitewater river. It was so destructive even the vehicle was extremely damaged, and we did find personal property out there. ... It was very dark and I'm estimating she didn't even see it coming. She just hit it and away she went."
    More rain fell overnight in the Waynesville area, near Fort Leonard Wood. National Weather Service meteorologist Drew Albert said parts of south-central Missouri received 15 inches of rain in a 48-hour period.
    I-44 near Jerome in south-central Missouri reopened Thursday after flood waters receded, but many other roadways were closed in southern Missouri.
    U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill both issued statements Thursday regarding the heavy rain and flash flooding in south central Missouri.
    "My staff and I continue to monitor the recent flooding in south central Missouri very closely, and I urge area residents to continue paying close attention to weather conditions, heed all instructions from local officials, and contact my office if they need any assistance," Blunt said.
    "Once again, Missourians are faced with severe weather threatening their homes and businesses—but I'm confident the communities across southern Missouri will weather these storms with the same resilience they've shown time and again," McCaskill said.
    Page 2 of 2 - "My prayers go out to all those in affected areas. And my staff and I stand ready to assist, and to advocate for federal resources," she added.
    The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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