LAKELAND, Fla. – A mother and her two sons were found dead in a submerged car in Lake Wire early on December 30, 2022, and police say that the investigation suggests it was intentional.
“At this point in the investigation, all evidence suggests that the adult female, 35-year-old Ortilla Zamora, intentionally drove her vehicle into Lake Wire on the morning of December 30, 2022,” said Lakeland Police Department. “During the investigation, detectives learned from family members that she had possibly been experiencing mental health issues days prior to the event. The mother and two boys are from the Wauchula area, and it is unknown why they were in Lakeland that morning.”
Police say an autopsy was conducted by the Polk County Medical Examiner’s Office on Tuesday, January 3, 2023. Additional testing, including toxicology exams, will continue as part of the ongoing investigation.
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According to police, on Friday, December 30, 2022, at approximately 5:26 a.m., Lakeland PD officers were dispatched to a reported submerged vehicle along the west side of Lake Wire.
Upon arrival, the officer found a vehicle submerged in the water approximately 15 feet from the shoreline.
Members of the Lakeland Fire Department and the Dive Team were dispatched to the location to remove the vehicle and perform a search.
As the divers began removing the vehicle from underwater, they noticed the front driver’s side window down and at least one adult inside the vehicle.
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After the car was pulled from the lake, two children were also located inside the car.
Detectives with the Criminal Investigations Division and members of the Forensic Services Unit responded to the area and began processing the scene. Preliminary information indicates that this was not a traffic crash, and there were no apparent signs of trauma on any of the people in the vehicle.