Coroner: Drowning victims were not intoxicated, toxicology still pending

By Sharon Wittke

The Jackson County coroner said the two women who drowned Saturday did not appear to have been intoxicated when the car they were in plunged off a boat launch into Cedar Lake near Carbondale.

Dr. Thomas Kupferer, the county coroner, said neither victim showed any obvious signs of drug or alcohol use during his preliminary examination.

He said the toxicology reports from his investigation are still pending, and it usually takes four to six weeks for his office to get the results, but he doesn’t expect the reports to contradict his initial findings.


Marielle A. Carson, 20, and Latisha A.P. Ray, 21, both of Chicago, were pronounced dead when the car Carson was driving was pulled from Cedar Lake at around 7 a.m. Saturday, according to a statement released by the coroner’s office.

According to the report, three passengers escaped before the car completely submerged.

Kupferer said none of the passengers who escaped showed any obvious signs of intoxication and there were no indications of drugs or alcohol in the car.

He said he thinks the people in the car were unfamiliar with the road that led to the lake.

The road that leads to the boat launch area is steep, he said, and it was probably difficult for the driver to stop the car before it went into the lake.

Kupferer said he saw skid marks that indicated Carson had applied the brakes before the car hit the water.

Steve O’Keefe, spokesperson for John A. Logan College in Carterville, said both Ray and Carson were students at the college.


“It’s tragic to have a life cut short,” he said.  “We’re deeply saddened by the loss of two promising students.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families.”