UPDATE, 6/19: The CHP has not officially named the victim pulled out of Freshwater Lagoon yesterday (see the “LoCO Note” below) but have provided the following vehicle registration update:

Vehicle registration records indicate the recovered vehicle belongs to that of a reported missing person from 2012. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office assigned a detective to handle the case of a missing person on June 14, 2012, which remained an active case in which the assigned detective was still actively searching for any leads to locate the missing person.  A search for the missing individual was conducted in June of 2012.  The search focused on the last known route of travel. Local search and rescue teams, the California Highway Patrol, County Sheriff’s Departments, and numerous other assisting personal and agencies were utilized during the search.  The identity of the individual located in the vehicle remains unknown pending positive identification by the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office.

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[LoCO Note: The vehicle description provided in the press release below matches one from this post published back in June of 2012.]

California Highway Patrol press release: 

On the morning of Wednesday, June 18th, the California Highway Patrol Humboldt Area recovered a vehicle from the Freshwater Lagoon that was believed to have been involved in a traffic collision. Upon recovery, one deceased victim was located within the vehicle. 

At approximately 10:00 a.m. on June 18th, the CHP received a tip from two fishermen that they had found a vehicle fully submerged in Freshwater Lagoon, just east of US-101 and south of the town of Orick.  Upon CHP arrival, officers located a fully submerged 2004 Mitsubishi SUV approximately 40 feet east of the shoreline that was visible due to the recent drop in water level.  The CHP recovered the vehicle and discovered one deceased victim seated in the driver seat.  A preliminary investigation suggests that the vehicle was traveling southbound on US-101 at Freshwater Lagoon and veered from its direct path of travel in an easterly direction, traversed the northbound lane, and drove into the mid-section of Freshwater Lagoon where it became fully submerged and not visible from the roadway or shore.  Evidence at the scene suggests that this collision occurred in excess of one year.  The victim’s name and proximate cause of death will be released upon positive identification and full autopsy conducted by the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office.

Due to the condition of the deceased victim, seatbelt usage and DUI as a factor are still under investigation.  The CHP was assisted in this incident by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, the Humboldt County Coroner’s office, Calfire, and the US Forest Service. 

The CHP commends the two fishermen who notified law enforcement of the submerged vehicle.