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Oklahoma Medical Examiner Says 5 Deaths Likely From Winter Storm


The Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office says the deaths of five people in recent days are likely linked to a winter storm, which brought ice and freezing rain across much of western, central and northern Oklahoma, and heavy flooding to the east.

Spokesman Eddie Johnson said Tuesday that the dead include two women found outdoors in the Oklahoma City area, a duck hunter whose boat capsized on Kaw Lake and two suspected drowning victims in eastern Oklahoma. A search continues at the lake nearPoncaCity for a second missing hunter, but Johnson says the effort has been hampered because the water is too cold for divers.

Johnson identified the women as 38-year-old Tabitha Southerland in Oklahoma City and 66-year-old Betty Wright of Yukon. The likely drowning victims include 54-year-old Melissa Phillips of Bixby, and 36-year-old Darrell Sennett, whose pickup truck was swept off of a Pittsburg County road.

The storm is also to blame in power outages for more than 125,000 homes and businesses statewide, as well as dangerous travel conditions in areas.

Emergency responders in northeastern Oklahoma say heavy rainfall and extreme flooding have made conditions along the Illinois River extremely dangerous.

Ed Fite, with the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission, says "widespread, catastrophic" damage has been caused to property and roads located near the river.

Fite says water levels at Watts, Chewey and at the Tahlequah gauge sites had either reached record flood stages or had crested by Monday afternoon.

The commission says residents shouldn't drive within the basin after dark. It's also warning drivers not to go through any roadway that's covered with water.

On Monday, Gov. Mary Fallin extended a state of emergency, originally declared after a winter storm battered the state last month, to all 77 Oklahoma counties.

The order extends the state of emergency for another 30 days and allows state agencies to make emergency purchases for disaster relief.

Fallin issued a second executive order that temporarily suspends size and weight permits for oversized vehicles transporting supplies and materials for storm relief.

The KOSU news team curates news of interest to Oklahomans from various sources around the world. Our hope is inform, educate, and entertain.
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