5 minute read

Deangelo Montez “Monte” Williams came within 50 yards of his mother’s home Monday night but never made it. Family members said that he was living there at the time.

He could no doubt see that house through his windshield as rising floodwaters pinned his car to the low water bridge guardrail on Southshore Drive in Ski Island.

It connects the several fingers of land that make up the Ski Island housing development in North Oklahoma City near Hefner and N. MacArthur. In a downpour, waters from the upstream lake flow over the bridge. This is not the first time that a vehicle has been stranded on that bridge by floodwaters.

By the time OKCFD firefighters got there Monday night they found the car submerged with water running over it. Some who lived nearby told them they last saw Williams standing on the roof of the car.

His body was found early Thursday morning after all-day grid searches by OKCFD dive teams started into their third day.

Williams, 49, was a musician, last in the local band Space Cowboy and was a sous chef at The Red Rooster in The Paseo. When we stopped by there Wednesday the restaurant was closed to honor Williams.

“Good person”

Michelle Williams, one of his first cousins in Oklahoma City, was quietly looking over the bridge and water Wednesday when they were still searching.

“I just want people to know what a good person he was,” she told me. “He’s a brother, a father, a son. I just want them to find him.”

“I would like for people out there that’s praying for us to know that we appreciate it. And we send out many, many thanks to everybody that’s praying and keeping us in their prayers,” she said.

She was too overcome with grief to talk further.

Circle of friends

A mutual acquaintance helped me connect with Ché Losseberg who knew Williams since their young years right after high school when they hung out with a tight circle of friends that has stayed together for several decades now.

She talked about their group of friends over the years living in the same neighborhoods by design both in OKC and Austin, Texas.

In OKC their main hangout was the HiLo Club which they found to be an open and welcoming place for people who were more on the edge that most people in the City.

“He had an completely magnetic personality,” she said. “He was an amazing storyteller. If anybody spent any time with him ever, they would hear a story. He was also an amazing musician, and he was a loving father of two children.”

Once word came out that Williams body had been found we talked with Losseberg again.

“He was such a wonderful part of my life and I will absolutely miss him forever and always,” she said crying.

Search challenges

Finding Williams’ remains on the third day was an emotional hurdle for the family and friends who just wanted the closure and finality of knowing. But it was not easy for OKCFD in that particular lake.

Ski Island Lake is complex and large enough to pose a logistics challenge as the dive team searches.

“A water rescue or water recovery poses several challenges to rescuers,” Battalion Chief Benny Fulkerson told Free Press in a written statement.

“In this instance, this body of water covers a wide area with many different channels and tributaries. The Oklahoma City Fire Department deployed drones, boats equipped with sonar equipment, and committed divers to the water.”

He said the Oklahoma City Police Department also used their helicopter in the search in past days but turned up nothing.

“Diving in these conditions is very dangerous due to the complete lack of visibility and the potential for debris in the water,” said Fulkerson. “Rescuers utilize a grid search system to systematically and methodically search and clear entire areas. This can take time, but the the persistence of those searching did result in this victim being located.”

Williams body was found at 7:56 a.m. Thursday in the water and under a boat that was on a lift.

(Feature image: Monte Willliams with his guitar in May, 2020. Photo courtesy of Ché Losseberg.)

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Last Updated September 3, 2020, 8:17 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor