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3 ND college students found dead in pond

DICKINSON, N.D. (AP) - Three missing North Dakota college softball players were found dead Tuesday in a Jeep that was pulled from a pond two days after the women disappeared.
Police Lt. Rod Banyai said police are "still investigating"
the cause of the deaths and autopsies are planned. Banyai said he believes the women were in the vehicle when they made two cell phone calls to friends for help, but he didn't know whether it already was under water when those calls were made.
Authorities had been searching since Sunday night for Kyrstin Gemar, 22, of San Diego; Afton Williamson, 20, of Lake Elsinore, Calif.; and Ashley Neufeld, 21, of Brandon, Manitoba.
The Dickinson State University students were believed to be in the white 1997 Jeep Cherokee with California plates when they were last heard from in the calls made to two friends on cell phones before lines went dead. Police described the first as a "very scratchy" call for help in which one of the women said they were near a lake and water.
Banyai said the pond is about 12 feet deep on a farm northwest of Dickinson. He said searchers found vehicle tracks leading into the pond Tuesday afternoon, and searchers in an airplane flying over the site saw oil on top of the water.
The submerged vehicle was pulled from the pond about two hours later, police said.
Banyai said the vehicle will be checked for defects. He said
authorities don't know how it got into the pond.
A prayer service was scheduled Tuesday night on campus.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-11-03-09 1941EST


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