CHICAGO (STMW) — A Sunday autopsy determined a missing North Side woman found inside a car that was submerged in the North Branch of the Chicago River drowned, but the manner of her death could not be determined.

An autopsy performed Sunday for Irma Sabanovic found she died of drowning but the manner of death could not be determined, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

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Sabanovic, 25, of 1950 W. Hood Ave., was dead on the scene Saturday inside a submerged car in the river near 1400 W. Blackhawk St., according to the medical examiner’s office.
Cranes were used to pull the car out of the river near North Elston Avenue and West Blackhawk Street, Shakespeare District Police Lt. Michael Mulkerin said.

“The car surfaced. It was a blue Ford Focus,”according to the lieutenant, who said he was notified Saturday at 12:15 p.m.

Sabanovic left her home May 12 with the intention of going to a nightclub at West North and North Elston avenues, but got lost, according to a missing persons alert from Belmont Area detectives issued on May 16.

Friends and family of the woman, a Bosnian immigrant who was a full-time college student and model, had papered the area with missing person flyers in the last week, making appeals at major intersections and online, through a Facebook page created to help find the missing woman.

“We were hoping to find a better result than we found today,” said Evelina Mehanovic, who had attended Mather High School with Sabanovic and created the Facebook page, which had raised just under $15,000 in donations toward the search ever since the woman went missing.

“I’m very sad and very confused,” said Mehanovic, as she waited at the river’s edge for the car to be pulled up.

Sabanovic, who lived in Rogers Park with her father, left her home on May 12 with the intention of going to the Exit nightclub, according to the missing person alert.

About 2 a.m. that night, she texted a male friend that she was lost near North Milwaukee Avenue and West Erie Street. That was the last communication from Sabanovic, the alert said.

Sabanovic had emigrated to Chicago in 2000 with both parents after the Bosnian War. Her mother died of cancer a year and a half ago. She has two other sisters still in Bosnia, Mehanovic said, adding that the money raised in the search would now be given to the family to help bury her. Sabanovic was a graduate of Northeastern University, she said.

“Its the first time anything like this has happened to any one of us who came here after the war. It’s very sad,” said another woman at the scene, Safa Sabanovic, (no relation), who didn’t know the missing woman but had helped in the search. “We all are lost and don’t know what went down.”

At 5-foot-10 and 120 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair, the dead woman was driving a blue four-door Ford Focus with Illinois plate A465569. According to police, the car was discovered Saturday after the Chicago Police Marine Unit picked up a sonar signal indicating an object in the water in the river at that location.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)