Boise & Garden City

Data recorder damaged in Lucky Peak crash that killed 4

Investigators examine the SUV after it was retrieved from the reservoir in June.
Investigators examine the SUV after it was retrieved from the reservoir in June.

It’s been almost three months since a Boise mother and her three children died in a crash into Lucky Peak Reservoir — and investigators are still awaiting a key piece of evidence that could explain what happened.

The June 2 crash killed Noel Bankhead, 40, Anika Voermans, 13, Logan Voermans, and Gwyneth Voermans, 8. All died of drowning; the children also experienced blunt force trauma, according to the Ada County Coroner’s Office.

Bankhead’s Land Rover plunged into the reservoir near High Bridge on Idaho Highway 21. There were no skid marks.

Ada County sheriff’s investigators hoped that the Land Rover’s event data recorder — akin to a jet’s “black box” — would provide critical information about the vehicle before the crash. The EDM records speed, acceleration, braking, engine RPM and fault codes.

The box from the 2008 Land Rover LR3 was mailed back to its British manufacturer to be read. But it turned out the module was damaged by water, and they were unable to get a reading off it, sheriff’s spokesman Patrick Orr said.

Investigators hope there’s another way to get at the data.

“We are waiting to see if we can pull out the chip and put it into a new EDR,” he said. “If they can do it, we’ll have to pay about $1,500 for the new EDR, put the chip in, and see if we can get a reading.”

Orr said investigators get data from EDRs all the time. They use it to compare it with their on-scene measurements and calculations. They are able to extract the data from most vehicles, but they don’t have the capability for Land Rovers.

Sheriff’s investigators have done a thorough check of the vehicle’s repair history and looked for recalls.

“There was no documented issue with that for that vehicle,” Orr said.

Ada County Coroner Dotti Owens said there was no evidence in the autopsy of Bankhead that she suffered any sort of medical emergency before the crash.

Public records show that Voermans and her former husband, both graduates of Cambridge High School, got married in 1995. They divorced two years ago.

A couple weeks after the fatal crash, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers moved a half-dozen boulders to the cliff area near where the vehicle crashed.

Four people were killed June 2 after an SUV plunged into Lucky Peak Reservoir near Boise. The cause of the crash has not yet been determined. A 2010 fatal crash into the reservoir at the same spot was determined to be a suicide by the Ada County c

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413, @KatyMoeller