Vicksburg man dies after car rolls off City Front landing

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 10, 2009

A Vicksburg man drowned in the Yazoo Diversion Canal Thursday afternoon after his car rolled down the steep embankment at City Front and into the water.

Bruice L. Chambers, 45, 904 Bowmar Ave., was pronounced dead by Warren County Coroner Doug Huskey at 4:25 p.m.

Witnesses said Chambers had been sitting in his 1987 Lincoln Town Car shortly after 3 p.m. at the north end of City Front beyond the boat access — where tourists and locals often stop to survey the canal — when the car hopped a small curb, traveled about 20 feet down a concrete embankment and ended up submerged in about 20 feet of water.

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Police Lt. Bobby Stewart said the first officer to arrive on the scene, Burt Ryan, attempted to swim to Chambers before he went under. Chambers’ body was discovered by divers about 5 feet from the car.

“We haven’t established any reason why this happened,” Stewart said. “Until we have results from an autopsy or toxicology report we will not know if any substances or health conditions contributed. At this point it looks like it was an accident.”

Chambers had worked at County Market and Delchamps locations in Vicksburg, said Laura Carpenter, his mother. More recently, she said, he had done mechanic work.

“A shadetree mechanic, like the old-fashioned way,” Carpenter said.

One of 10 children, Chambers attended Vicksburg High School. He was known for an easy smile and joked, said Belinda Chambers-Okafor, a sister.

“He was very compassionate, giving, helpful,” she said. “Just a happy-go-lucky person.”

Chambers is survived by a wife, Luedella Chambers of Utica, and two daughters, Chelcie and SyEsha.

Police received the call at 3:09 p.m., and divers pulled Chambers from the water about 37 minutes later. He was rushed to River Region Medical Center, but could not be resuscitated. Huskey said an autopsy will not be performed, but a toxicology report was requested.

Charles Hill, who takes his dog to City Front each evening, said Chambers had been sitting in his vehicle in front of the canal for about 25 minutes before he heard the car start and he saw it immediately drive into the canal.

“I heard the car crank up and all of a sudden it was over that concrete and in the water. It didn’t look like he was fighting to get out, or maybe he couldn’t,” said Hill, who made the initial call to 911. “I worked on the fire department in Greenville for 20 years and this is the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this.”

Jim Jones Jr. — whose family operates the Sweet Olive tour boat docked nearby — was the first to attempt a rescue. He said he arrived at the canal to ready the boat for an evening tour just as Chambers’ car had hit the water.

“It didn’t take 10 seconds for the car to sink,” he said. “Something wasn’t right — he wasn’t flailing about or anything. After the car sank he popped up and I tried to swim out to him with a life jacket, but I couldn’t get to him. He went under.”

W.H. Jefferson Funeral Home has charge of arrangements.


Contact Steve Sanoski at