Cold-Case Divers Find 32 Cars in Florida Lake While Searching for Missing Person
Theft, insurance fraud, and disappearance cases could come alive after this discovery.
A volunteer dive corps searching for missing people has stumbled across what could be a dirty secret. Under the surface of a lake near Miami's airport, the group found dozens of sunken cars, which it suspects are linked to criminal activity.
Recently highlighted by WSVN 7 Miami, a group of volunteer divers from an alliance of organizations search bodies of water to aid with missing persons cases. The divers use a database of missing people dating back 40 years to identify lakes worth investigating, then use sonar to determine whether to get their feet wet. They came to Florida following a cold case for someone who disappeared en route to Miami International Airport, which led them to a lake nearby.
"We have a case where someone drove from Pinellas County down to pick up their relatives at the airport, and then they disappeared," Ken Fleming of Recon Dive Recovery told WSVN. "So, in this spot, we're near the airport, it's a large body of water, it has easy access to get into, so we would target that as a potential foul play spot."
Once under the surface, Fleming and crew found more than they bargained for: 32 vehicles. This one find accounts for more than half as many as they've found across the rest of the state (totaling 60), and they suspect an association with crime.
"When we discover a spot like this with multiple vehicles, it pretty much indicates that [sic] a crime where they’re disposing the vehicles and hiding them from law enforcement," Fleming said.
Footage of the dive doesn't make clear what era the cars are from, as many are overturned or covered in years of sediment. It's likely many, if not all, are cases of insurance fraud or stolen vehicles, disposed of to hide evidence. But it's possible some were driven in by accident (or on Jesus's instructions), which is why the divers are assisting with recovery by marking vehicles' locations with buoys.
"It's about providing answers for families where they don’t have them," said Doug Bishop of United Search Corps. "Departments, respectfully, have to justify their use of resources, and when a case goes cold, we have the ability to step in. We don't have to justify our use of resources, and we can help eliminate the drag on personnel locally. We can do this, we specialize in it, we can do it on a high level and do so as volunteers."
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