Missing Woman Found Inside Submerged Car

Updated 5/21/11 2:21 p.m.

CHICAGO (STMW) – Crews pulled a blue Ford Focus out of the North Branch of the Chicago River Saturday afternoon, and it reportedly contained the body of a North Side woman who vanished earlier this month.

“The car surfaced. It was a blue Ford Focus,’’ according to Shakespeare District police Lt. Michael Mulkerin.

As of 12:50 p.m., cranes were on the scene trying to pull the car out of the river, near Elston Avenue and Blackhawk Street, the lieutenant said.

“They are waiting on the crane to pull it out,’’ the lieutenant said.

Mulkerin said detectives suspect a body inside is the 25-year-old missing woman, Irma Sabanovic, who left her home May 12 with the intention of going to a nightclub at North and Elston, but she got lost, according to a missing persons alert from Belmont Area detectives.

What brought police to the spot this weekend is surveillance video from a nearby business, sources told CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot. The video reportedly showed Sabanovic’s  vehicle take a curve at a high rate of speed, then land upside-down in the water.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office would not release the victim’s name Saturday night.

Police News Affairs Officer Robert Perez said the police Marine Unit picked up a sonar signal that indicated an object in the water in the river at that location.

“They got a hit on a sonar on an object in the water, there was an object below the water,’’ said Perez.

Sabanovic, a Bosnian immigrant who lived in West Rogers Park, left her home in the 1900 block of West Hood Avenue on May 12 with the intention of going to the Exit nightclub, the alert said.

At 2 a.m., she texted a male friend to say she was lost near Milwaukee and Erie. That was the last communication from Sabanovic, the alert said.

Sabanovic was driving a blue four-door Ford Focus with Illinois plate A465569.

Sabanovic is 5-foot-10 and 120 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair. She is white with a medium complexion, and has a tattoo that says “Minge” on her right forearm and a tattoo of a star on her back.

Mulkerin, who said he was notified of the incident at 12:15 p.m., said while his officers were on site, Near North District officers were handling the scene.

Belmont Area detectives are investigating.

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2011. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

  • Lejla

    Rest in Peace Beautiful Irma. Your life came to an early end :((( My heart goes out to Irma’s family and friends.

  • Tijana

    The car surfaced by itself? RIP Irma, my condolences go to the family and friends.

    • MM

      No, it didn’t surface “by itself”. Read the article; it was picked up on sonar.

  • yd bridges

    No the car didn’t surface by itself. It was found in 15 ft of water and pulled out by the use of a crane. The street is a dead end street that ends at the river in an industrial area that has no foot and no vehicle traffic at that time of night. It was a great job by the Police Marine unit just finding the car in that cess pool of a river and an even greater job by the police divers. I’m glad closure was brought to her family and friends that will not have to go through life wondering what happened to her.

    • Tijana

      Sad ending. I mapped the location where the car was found, like you said it was a dead end street. It looks to me like someone purposely did this to Irma? What would she be doing on a dead end street even if she was lost?? Why would she get off the main street? Things just don’t add up clearly. Let’s wait for the autopsy results.

      • Richard

        Have you ever tried driving in an unknown area, especially at night? One can get lost in that area even in the daylight. And I live in that vicinity. ALJ

  • J

    I work near there (ABC 7 was in our parking lot all day) and can say that it wouldn’t be very hard to end up turned around in that area…I sincerely doubt there was any foul play involved. She was really close to the bar and (in my opinion) probably wanted to hurry up and find parking, obviously not realizing the street dead ended into the river. Its a very sad situation, but I don’t think the autopsy will reveal anything new


      Finally, J, someone looking @ a sad situation as if the “glass is half full. ” I to am glad that the family now has closure. I also belive that this young lady was lost like the article says and took the curve to fast and lost control. Condolences to the family. May the LORD be with you all..

  • Jay Bee

    The 1900 block of West Hood Avenue is not Rogers Park. The south border of Rogers Park is Devon Ave.and Hood is 4 or 5 blocks south of Devon.

    • The nudnik

      1900 W. Hood is about a block west of Ravenswood and about a block north of Peterson, so it is in West Ridge.

      • Jay Bee


    • The Nudnik

      According to the City of Chicago website (http://www.explorechicago.org/city/en/neighborhoods/west_ridge__devon.html), the borders of West Ridge (aka West Rogers Park) are Ridge, Ravenswood, Peterson, Western, Bryn Mawr, Chicago River, Kedzie, and Howard.

      • Jay Bee

        Okay, but Mai Martinez didn’t say West Ridge (aka West Rogers Park), she said Rogers park.

  • JeanSC

    The report of the surveillance video suggests she might have been fleeing a would-be criminal in a car, even if there is no evidence of foul play. That’s not a good neighborhood at night. As for the map questions, yeah, she lived in West Ridge, 2 blocks from me; even the several unofficial neighborhood maps can’t show Rogers Park going south of Devon, which is indeed north of Hood. CBS2 is fixated on relying on one of those unofficial maps and would rather have a tooth pulled without anesthetic than say a story is located in West Ridge; once they did use it but were on the wrong side of Ridge.

  • sarma

    Vjecni rahmet Irmi a obitelji sabur …

  • Cazim

    Very sad story and sad ending. Prayers for the family. Questionable is that Chicago PD has daily patrols everywhere and also Chicago River and did not find her earlier. Second Irma’s nick name was BLACKBIRD and street she wasfound is BLACKHAWK. Is all of this coincident? I live 50 + miles north of Chicago and gladlly came down to help with the search. I was group leader for search area #29. While going from house to house and from business to business in Rogers Park area our hope was broken with phone call saying that car was found. We drove to the area where her body was discovered. Tragic end of young life. Message to all people. Please do not drink and drive and please do not go alone at night. Stay safe and god bless you all. RIPIrma.

    • Jay Bee

      Yes, this is concident. And too bad you were searching Rogers Park. See what happens when CBS News uses unreliable maps?

  • Esmeralda

    Veoma tuzna I tragicna sudbina. Vijecni rahmet Irma

  • AB Smith

    It’s sad when things like this happen. However such is life, we always must be careful and prudent.


  • Amko

    Neka ti dragi Allah podari vjecni rahmet i da te nagrati dzenetom Irma!! Amin

  • kyag

    Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly. All your life, you were only waiting for this moment ot arise. Be Free. Rest in Peace Irma. You are loved, no matter where you are

  • http://vigvee.wordpress.com vigvee

    Wow that is so sad. Such a tragic loss.


  • zarathrusta

    Hard to drive when you’re looking for a bar while talking on a cell phone.

    • Sarajevo

      whatever dude, u suck, idiot.

  • gost

    Irma je morala da zaluta i da se odveze do rjeke u kojoj se utopila jer joj je dragi Allah na tom mjestu smrt odredio.Njeni roditelji su izgubili Irmu, nije vise s njima , ali su dobili andjela(meleka) koji ce stalno da bdije nad njima i stiti ih. Neka im Allah podari snagu i sabur, Amin

  • Harriet

    May God have her in her presence for ever and ever. Was this beautiful woman saved and sanctified? we all hope she did and now she is enjoying the Celestial City where we all are gona go. Our condolences to the family and may God in his infinite mercy give you peace in your heart.

  • Sarajevo

    Stvarno mi je zao Irma, prelijepa si bila. Nek ti dragi Allah dadne lijepi rahmet. <3

  • Joe

    You guys watch to much csi!

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