Police believe the 84-year-old Cape Girardeau woman who died after a four-car accident on Broadway Tuesday afternoon was probably unconscious before her car hit the one in front of it.
"That's the way we're looking at it," said police spokesman Jason Selzer. "Numerous witnesses said she was slumped over the wheel before it even happened."
Geraldine Dormeyer, 84, was pronounced dead at 1:30 p.m. at Southeast Missouri Hospital, about 40 minutes after police responded to the accident at the 1000 block of Broadway.
Cape Girardeau County Coroner Mike Hurst said that Dormeyer died of cardiac arrest, but he said he did not know if that happened before, during or after the accident.
Dormeyer's Lincoln Continental slammed into the car in front of her, causing a chain reaction that ended with four damaged vehicles but no one other than Dormeyer seriously injured. Selzer said he did not know how fast Dormeyer was traveling, but that the speed limit on that section of Broadway is 30 mph.
Darren McCain, one of the drivers involved, had stopped on the westbound lane of traffic while he waited for the car in front of him to turn into the Rhea Optical parking lot at 1105 Broadway.
"I just heard a set of tires squalling and a crunching sound," McCain said. "The car in front of me hadn't turned yet, so I had to sit there and let it happen."
McCain believed the only damage his truck sustained was a busted rear bumper.
Linda Deimund watched it all happen as she was talking with a customer outside her business, Great Clips Hair Design, at 1022 Broadway.
"She was slumped over the wheel before she even hit," Deimund said. "She hit the car in front of her, and then her car started rolling backward."
Deimund and another man stopped the car and took the woman's pulse, but said they couldn't find one. The man, who would not give his name, asked a friend to phone 911.
"She was deceased before she ever hit those cars," the man said. "If she wasn't, she was close. She never even slowed down."
Funeral arrangements were incomplete at Ford & Sons Funeral Home.
335-6611, extension 137