Father heartbroken after estranged wife and daughter drown in sinking car

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by WENDY CORONA

WFAA

Posted on November 17, 2012 at 1:00 AM

FORT WORTH -- Richard Williams cell phone holds a lifetime of memories.

"All the way back to when she was born," Williams said.

The pictures and videos of 22-month-old Tisiphone Williams at his fingertips are now all he has to remember her by.

"It ain't quite sunk in yet," Williams said.

The little girl and his estranged wife, Christina Williams, died Thursday night.

"I thought something was kind of strange, because every time she picks up Tisiphone, she calls me and lets me talk to her while she's driving, [and] I didn't hear from her last night," Richard Williams said.

That's because Thursday night the 2009 Kia Spectra Christina was driving ended up in a pond along the East Loop 820 service road at Collett Little Road.

"They were leaving here. I took care of Tisiphone yesterday afternoon," said Ila Jean Johnson, the toddler's grandmother. "I heard the sirens, but didn't know what they were for."

Meanwhile, Williams is puzzled by one question.

"No, there wasn't nothing electric [in the car,]" Mr. Williams said. "It had automatic transmission, and the windows and doors were manual."

It should be possible to roll down manual windows once a car begins sinking. Power windows short out quickly, so safety experts recommend immediately rolling down electric windows once a car hits the water.

Two bystanders swam to the Williams aid, but could not get into the car to save the mother and daughter. Neither could the first responders. The two were eventually freed from the vehicle by a dive team, but they had been under water for more than a half-hour at that point.

"I guess we'll have to get through it," Richard Williams said.

At the scene Friday, an orange net blocked the hole in the fence the Kia crashed through. Traffic investigators are looking into whether Christina ran a stop sign, like witnesses say.

"She's a better driver than that," Mr. Williams said.

Williams said he and his wife had been separated for the past two years.

He watched cell phone video of Tisiphone happily bouncing to remember better times.

"It was fun," the father said. "It made me feel young."

E-mail wcorona@wfaa.com

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