Body Found In Merced River

April 18, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A fisherman made a gruesome discovery in the North Valley this Saturday. As he came upon a submerged vehicle, with a body inside.Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin said deputies are on the scene to retrieve a body that was found in a car.

The sheriffs have a dive team out there.

Sheriff Pazin said they were looking at it as a rescue, but it turned into a recovery mission, meaning the victim had died.

The deputies had trouble getting the body out of the car because the river was moving fast.

The truck was found in the Merced River, just off of Highway 99, and it appears it had been there since early this morning.

A tow truck lifted this white pickup out of the Merced River, but its engine had to be taken out separately.

A fisherman found the truck submerged underwater Saturday afternoon, the driver's body, inside.

Howard Thomas dialed 9-1-1. But he wasn't the first. Around 3 a.m. Saturday, a driver reported seeing a car driving northbound on highway 99 fly off the embankment and into the Merced River.

But when officers arrived, they couldn't find the vehicle.

Jim Woodley California Highway Patrol, "apparently when the accident first occurred, all the lights went out in the vehicle and again, at 3:00 a.m., it's very difficult without any lights and in this location it's rather remote."

Officials said the victim is a man in his early twenties, who was still strapped in his seatbelt.

It was startling discovery for both officers and Thomas, who wishes there was more he could have done.

CHP officers said they searched the river and at this point, they believe the driver was the only person in the vehicle at the time of the crash.

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