Police: New York woman drowned after Pennsylvania crash

Emergency responders work at the scene of a two-vehicle crash with two fatalities on Robison Road east of Peach Street on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015 in Summit Township, Erie County, Pa. The drivers of each vehicle died in the crash. Pennsylvania State Police and a county coroner are trying to figure out why a New York woman walked to a pond and drowned after the traffic accident. The Erie County coroner says 39-year-old Laura Nicholson, of Buffalo, drowned about 200 yards from Monday morning's crash. (Andy Colwell/Erie Times-News via AP)

ERIE, Pa. (AP) — A New York woman walked to a pond and drowned after suffering only minor injuries in a traffic accident that killed another driver in northwestern Pennsylvania, and authorities have been trying to figure out why.

Laura Nicholson, 39, of Buffalo, drowned about 200 yards from Monday’s crash site in Summit Township, an Erie suburb.

Nicholson crossed a double-yellow line trying to pass a vehicle just after 8 a.m., hitting another car head on and killing its driver, Joseph Gausman, 54, of Erie, said Sgt. Mark Zaleski, a state police spokesman.

State troopers were contacting Nicholson’s family on Tuesday to determine why she was in the Erie area and whether she had any health or psychological issues that might have contributed to her drowning or the crash.

Zaleski says there is no connection between Nicholson and Gausman and that there is a strong likelihood that they will never know what really happened or why it happened.

Nicholson suffered only bumps and bruises in the crash, Deputy Coroner Korac Timon said.

“Drowning contributed to her death,” Timon told the Erie Times-News. “We will have to wait for the toxicology report to determine the degree to which it contributed and rule on an official cause of death. But her death was not the result of any injuries she received from the accident.”

Toxicology results on her body will take about three weeks.

There were no passengers in either vehicle, but Zaleski said witnesses saw Nicholson get out of her car and walk toward a trailer park and pond immediately after the accident. She was carrying her purse.

Troopers searching the area, thinking that Nicholson was fleeing the accident scene, found her body and purse floating in the pond, Zaleski said.

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