Report: Winona Woman Who Drowned In Wis. Was Drunk

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — A Minnesota bartender who drowned on New Year’s Eve after her car plunged down a 40-foot embankment and crashed through ice in Wisconsin was legally drunk at the time, according to newly released police reports.

Ellen “Ellie” Ahmann of Winona, Minn. had a blood-alcohol level of 0.16 percent, or twice the legal limit, when her body was recovered from the Mississippi River, the La Crosse Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1dU76tp ). The accident happened shortly after the 21-year-old left the downtown tavern where she worked.

Ahmann was a senior studying finance at Winona State University. Her death was ruled a cold-water drowning with alcohol a contributing factor, according to La Crosse police reports acquired through an open-records request.

Ahmann was scheduled to begin work at the Cheap Shots bar at 10 p.m. She arrived about an hour early and asked if she could have a drink before her shift, bar manager Katie Gannon said.

Surveillance video from the bar shows Ahmann drinking three shots in about 30 minutes and ordering a mixed drink.

She started working about 9:40 p.m. but Gannon told her to stop working just before 10 p.m. Gannon said she helped Ahmann collect her things and had her sit on a couch while Gannon called a taxi, but Ahmann left the bar before Gannon returned.

About 15 minutes later, Ahmann’s vehicle ran over a cub and plunged over the embankment onto Isle La Plume Slough. Her body was found the next day after someone noticed tire tracks in the snow and on the ice.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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