A call came into Mesquite Dispatch at approximately 12:49 p.m. Tuesday of a vehicle driving into the pond at the corner of Redd Hills and Pioneer Boulevard.
Inside the vehicle was 77 year old Jim McMurray, of Mesquite, who had driven northbound over Grapevine, failed to stop at the sign and maintained speed over the curb and grass into the pond. When the vehicle came to a stop, it had spun around facing the south, the opposite direction.
Witnesses on scene said that McMurray was traveling at a moderate speed when descending from the hill on the Grapevine overpass. Two of those witnesses, Blair Gibson and Joe Vasquez, jumped into the frigid pond water in an attempt to save McMurray, but were unsuccessful.
The weather overall made it a difficult day for rescuers, as the winds and rains made temperatures feel even colder.
“It was extremely dangerous for them to try and save him,” said Lt. MaQuade Chesley with the Mesquite Police Department. “Not only was the water cold, but the force of the water combined with the sinking car (because a window was open) could have created a vacuum and brought either one of the guys under as well.”
Fire Chief Kash Christopher also commended the witnesses in an email to the MLN Tuesday night: “I will say this, considering how cold and murky that water was, their actions should be commended because they did all they could.”
Christopher went on to commend his staff that also made attempts to rescue McMurray from his Chevrolet Malibu. “Mesquite Fire Rescue arrived on-scene and despite not having the proper dive equipment, three attempts were made to rescue the driver, but the vehicle was fully submerged and after the last attempt, I ordered them out of the water for their safety (they wanted to go again). After the vehicle was located, it was estimated to be 13 feet deep, and the surface temperature was 54 degrees (the deeper you go, the colder it gets). So a rescue by MFD would have been extremely difficult, yet they gave it their best.”
Due to the lack of needed equipment, MPD and MFD called in Search & Rescue teams from Las Vegas. The scene was then turned over to them and Nevada Highway Patrol as well as Las Vegas Metro Police. As of Wednesday morning, no comments had been received by those agencies
The divers with the Search and Rescue teams showed up at approximately 5 p.m. but the full extraction of McMurray and his vehicle wasn’t complete until closer to 8:30 p.m. When the vehicle was pulled out, it was upside down. Crews covered it with a yellow tarp as the brought it out of the water.
It is still unknown if McMurray had suffered a health condition that caused the incident or if there was a malfunction with his vehicle. Until the investigation is finished, those answers cannot be retrieved. Results of the investigation could take several weeks.