NEW MILFORD — Neighbors of a woman killed Saturday when her car went off a boat launch into Lake Lillinonah say she was a “very sweet soul.”

Ewa Bielska, 46, was driving her 2006 Toyota Scion when it plunged into the icy lake in Bridgewater about noon Saturday. Bielska was found unconscious two hours later submerged in 40 feet of water. She was taken to Danbury Hospital where she was pronounced dead about 4 p.m.

“She was really nice, a very sweet soul,” said Valentina Coronel, Bielska’s neighbor on Pumpkin Hill Road. “When I first moved here three years ago, she introduced herself. She made me feel very welcome when I moved here. We became very good friends.”

Bielska lived alone and had a caregiver, Coronel said.

“I’m in shock,” Coronel said. “I can’t believe how tragic this is. Her car seemed to be in good condition. I don’t know why she would have been at the boat launch.”

Another neighbor, who declined to provide her name, said Bielska was “wonderful and an avid animal person.” She remembered Bielska once took in a stray cat one winter, feeding the animal and giving it a warm place to sleep.

Bielska’s family members could not be reached for comment. A woman at her apartment Monday declined comment.

The state DEEP Environmental Conservation Police are continuing to investigate the incident to determine how Bielska’s vehicle plunged into the lake off Route 133 in Bridgewater.

A heavy duty tow truck was used in the rescue operation to recover Bielska and her car.

State Police, Bridgewater police, DEEP officials and dive teams from Brookfield, New Milford and Newtown’s Underwater Search and Rescue all responded to the scene.

stuz@newstimes.com; 203-731-3352