Ariana Taylor case: Cause of death for Gary mom released

The cause of death was released Thursday night for Ariana Taylor, the Gary mother who was missing for more than a week and later found dead in a drainage ditch.

According to the Lake County coroner’s office, Taylor's injuries were consistent with trauma from a motor vehicle accident complicated by drowning.

The manner of death was ruled an accident. Other results are pending, according to the office.


Human remains found in northwest Indiana Wednesday morning were positively identified as Taylor. The body of Taylor was discovered in a shallow drainage ditch around 9 a.m. near Bellaboo’s Play and Discovery Center, following a search by cadaver dogs, Gary police spokesman Jack Hamady told reporters Wednesday at a news conference.

Taylor’s body was found more than a mile from where her wrecked and abandoned vehicle was found on April 3, Hamady said.

The 23-year-old was last seen leaving her Merrillville, Ind., apartment complex after 1 a.m. on April 3.

A Chevrolet Traverse SUV registered in Taylor's name was found crashed later that morning in a wooded area near the I-80/94 Junction in Gary. Her blue jeans and gym shoes were found a short distance away, but her body could not be located.

Officials did not explain why her body was found far from where her vehicle had crashed. Police said it was not possible that she had floated between the locations.

There were hugs and tears as members of Taylor’s family gathered at the scene where her body was discovered. Police say a team of police canines hit on a scent in a county park near I-65.

"And at that time one of the canine handlers observed an individual he believed to be deceased, in the water, in a ditch," said Gary Police Commander Jack Hamady. "A shallow drainage ditch."

Taylor’s mother made the identification. Police say Taylor had apparently driven off the interstate while returning home from a party in Merrillville.

"I spoke to the mother and she’s as any mother would be, suffering such a grave loss," said Gary Police Chief Brian Evans.

Police say there was no evidence of foul play.

Taylor‘s family did not want to speak on camera, but did thank all the volunteers who helped search for Ariana over the past nine days.

Anyone with information about her whereabouts can call Detective Sergeant Mark Salazar at 219-881-1209, the Crime Tip Line at 866-CRIME-GP or 911.

There was a false alarm on Sunday after Gary police confirmed a "body" that had been found not far from where police located Taylor's SUV was actually a "life-sized silicone/rubber type female doll."

Lake County Coroner David J. Pastrick said in a statement on Sunday night: "On Sunday… the Lake County Coroner’s Office responded to what we were advised of being a death scene. Lake County Dispatch was notified by a Nipsco employee doing work in the area of 15th Ave and Lake St in the city of Gary. The investigation turned out to be a false alarm. The body turned out to be not human and was a lifelike mannequin."