Woman escapes car sinking in icy lake, mourns boyfriend lost in accident

Posted at 11:02 PM, Dec 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-25 23:02:19-05

BANGOR, MI (WWMT/CNN) - A Michigan woman who recently lost her boyfriend in a car accident is sharing about the ordeal of escaping from an icy lake, alone. 

Tara Smith's 22-year-old boyfriend died on Friday after the SUV they were riding in ran off the road and into an icy lake.  Smith is still in awe she escaped a sinking car after accidentally crashing into a Van Buren County lake.

And her heart is broken because her passenger and boyfriend Jeezrel Wallace didn't survive. "I don't understand what happened or why he stopped swimming. I don't know if the water got to him,” Smith said. 

Smith remembers the harrowing moments after they plunged into the water, thinking the road continued. The car started sinking. The couple escaped out the window and onto the top of the car.

“We're out there really far and you can see all of the ice and I said, 'Babe what do we do, I'm scared.' And he said, 'we are going to have to jump, we have to get to shore. Because the car is sinking babe, we have to go,’” she said. 

They held hands and jumped in. But in the end, only Smith survived. “I wanted to go back for him, and then I would have died too. But I feel like I should have went back for him even if I would've died,” Smith said. 

The moments she literally stumbled into help at a nearby home were caught on surveillance camera. 

She says she lost the light and love of her life. "He inspired me and he put that light in me that I lost a long time ago,” she said of Wallace. 

She hopes the community will understand her side of the story before assigning blame. "I don't blame everybody for being mad at me or calling me a murderer, but that's not the case. I loved Jeez with everything that I have," Smith said. 

Police believe alcohol may have been a factor in the crash. Wallace is survived by a young son. 

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