Drowning deaths ruled accidental after missing Buena Vista women found dead at Smith Mountain Lake

Women found dead inside car


Autopsies reveal the cause of death for both Jacquelyn “Bridgett” Clark, 42, and Mary “Becky” Williams, 40, is drowning, according to the medical examiner’s office in Roanoke.

Both deaths have been ruled accidental.


Authorities say the two people found dead inside a car in Smith Mountain Lake over the weekend have been identified as two women reported missing out of Buena Vista.

Jacquelyn “Bridgett” Clark, 42, and Mary “Becky” Williams, 40, were last seen on April 18 in Buena Vista, shortly before midnight, according to the Buena Vista Police Department. Police say they were reported missing after they didn’t arrive at a home on April 19.

Authorities say their bodies were found inside Williams’ dark blue 2013 Ford Explorer on Saturday.

“The Buena Vista Police Department would like to express our condolences to the families of Bridgett Clark and Becky Williams,” said the Buena Vista Police Department in a release.

Clark’s mother, Linda Barger, said her daughter had said goodbye to her before leaving town.

“She said I’ve gotta go away for a few days, I’m going away and so she packed her clothes and actually before she left she came over and told me she loved me," Barger said.

She added that it wasn’t unusual for her daughter to leave town for a few days, but it was unusual for her to not contact her mother in the hours that followed.

Barger said she learned after the disappearance that the two women were headed to the Kroger in West Lake to meet some friends. Those friends said that when the two women didn’t arrive to meet them, they called looking for them. Barger recounted a harrowing call.

“(He told me) they were about 12 miles from him and they said there’s water in my car, I feel like I’m floating,” Barger said. “And the gentleman said, where’s Bridgett? And she said asleep. And he said well get her up and get out of there.”

That call was made just a few hours after the women left Buena Vista. After a week of looking for them, police recovered the car and their bodies at the end of Webster Road. The road dumps right into the water with little warning, and Barger said in the pitch dark it’s impossible to see. That’s why she believes it was an accident.

“It’s very easy for someone to just drive in there, especially at 2:40 in the morning, I can see that happening,” Barger said.

Clark leaves behind two teenage children and a loving family. And the community they’ve called home for so long is helping them through.

“Bridgett had many friends here in the area and we’ve been surrounded by friends in the time since,” Barger said.

Clark’s extended family has battled COVID 19 in the recent weeks. Barger hopes to do a memorial service when people can get together again.

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