Hazel L. Phillips

Osawatomie Fire Department removed the vehicle, a 2008 Chevrolet Malibu owned by Hazel Phillips, who was found with the vehicle dead.

MIAMI COUNTY, KS (KCTV) -- The body of a missing elderly Paola woman has been found in floodwater.

Deputies were called Friday to Hospital Drive south of 327th Street for a vehicle in the water. The flooded waters had receded, showing the roof of a silver passenger car.

Osawatomie Fire Department removed the vehicle, a 2008 Chevrolet Malibu owned by 78-year-old Hazel Phillips, who was found with the vehicle dead.

The cause of death is still under investigation.

Phillips had last contacted her family on Tuesday evening and told them she was going to Drexel on Wednesday morning.

By Friday evening, there was still more than a foot of water over the pavement in areas. In the ditch, it was several feet deep.

Phillips' family returned to this spot along Hospital Drive to try to understand what happened to her.

“You struggle to make sense of what happened, try to piece together what happened,” said her son, Charles Phillips.

“Thank you to everyone who has been out her helping us look,” said her daughter, Lisa Wiltsey.

“It was an incredible outpouring of support. People were dropping at a moment's notice to come help look,” Charles said.

On Friday, they were remembering the mother of five, a creative woman who loved to plan games and activities at her local senior center and for her family at Christmas.

“Nothing was more important to her than family,” Charles said. “She loved Christmas she loved being around people.”

“She loved her family very much,” said her daughter, Sheila Phillips.

“She loved to tell stories and create games,” Charles said. “Yeah,” Lisa added, “she created games for us at Christmas.”

They were also warning other drivers to take extra caution when they're driving in heavy rain.

“Not understanding why she would cross that in the first place is difficult for me,” Lisa said.

“It just goes to show how dangerous that is,” Charles said. “It was 5 or 6 feet deep and it took her life away.”

Instead of flowers, Phillips' family is asking people to remember her by donating to the Paola Senior Center.

Copyright 2018 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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