(NEW YORK) — The family of a North Carolina grandmother whose body was found inside her wrecked car three days after it was towed said on Wednesday they believe she would still be alive if a state trooper had noticed her.
Carolyn Ann Watkins, 62, was found dead inside her 2000 Pontiac at a towing lot on Monday.
“There was not much swelling and stuff like that, so we think she was living in that vehicle,” Patricia Parker, Watkins’ daughter-in-law, told ABC News.
State Trooper M.D. Williams found Watkins’ car Friday morning in a ditch near Smithfield, a town 30 miles southeast of Raleigh.
“Note: No driver at the scene of this collision,” Williams wrote in a copy of the accident report obtained by ABC News.
Dustin’s Towing was called to the scene to remove the vehicle from the ditch and keep it for storage.
Parker said the family was never notified about the crash and contacted the Smithfield Police Department on Monday when Watkins did not show up for work.
The grandmother of four was found dead inside her car at the tow yard later that day, Parker said.
The Department of Public Safety said Williams, a nine-year veteran of the force, has been placed on paid administrative duty while the department conducts an investigation.
“At this early stage, our main concern is to conduct a thorough and professional investigation so we can determine exactly what happened,” Frank Perry, Department of Public Safety commissioner, said in a statement.
Dustin’s Towing declined to comment on the case and referred all questions to the Department of Public Safety.
Parker said an autopsy is pending on Watkins’ body and the family hopes to find out how long she was alive after her wreck.
“She was an all-around nice person,” Parker said. “The way that they left her in that car, nobody should have to go through that.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Ian Kerner, CNN
Matt McFarland, CNN
Susan Scutti, CNN