Florida man

Volunteer dive teams assisting Florida investigators found the remains of a man who went missing 16 years ago inside a submerged vehicle.

On Thursday night, sonar search and recovery teams discovered a Mitsubishi SUV at the bottom of a retention pond in Palm Harbor with license plates matching those of Robert Helphrey, who went missing in 2006.

On Friday, deputies from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office towed the car out of the water.

Officials confirmed that human bones were discovered inside, but they have yet to determine whether they belonged to Helphrey.

The Medical Examiner’s Office is investigating the death to determine the cause of death.

According to the sheriff’s office, the case is currently under investigation.

On May 22, 2006, Helphrey was last seen leaving Peggy O’Neill’s Bar in Palm Harbor around midnight.

According to authorities, he was driving to meet a friend but never arrived.

According to the outlet, the vehicle and remains were discovered about six minutes away from the pub.

The Thirsty Marlin, where Helphrey previously worked as a general manager, is directly across the street.

Helphry worked the night he disappeared, according to Brian St. Arnold, a childhood friend who owns the restaurant.

St. Arnold told Fox 13 that he hopes the discovery dispels any rumors about his missing friend.

He thinks Helphrey took a wrong turn that night and ended up in the water.

“It’s incredible that no one saw him that night.” Nobody could hear anything. “He didn’t yell for help,” he explained to the outlet.

Friday morning, St. Arnold received a call from a Sunshine State Sonar team member.

“There have been many mysteries over the years.” ‘Have you heard what happened to Bob?’ so many people have asked. ‘Did anyone find…’ and about a year ago this fella came to us and said that he was going to be looking with sonar equipment and trying to find Bob and gave an interview with us, called me back a couple of days later and said, ‘I will find him. Please allow me some time.’ “He did,” said St. Arnold.

The sheriff’s office was assisted in locating the vehicle by Sunshine State Sonar and Recon Dive Recovery. Volunteer organizations sift through national missing persons databases, looking for any information on missing people.

“We start by looking at the person’s work address, home address, patterns of life where they like to hang out, and last cell phone pings,” Recon Dive Recovery’s Ken Fleming explained.

They then use sonar and magnet equipment to assist in the location of vehicles underwater. According to Fleming, the team discovered the remains of a missing teacher in a vehicle in Port Orange just last week.

Fleming said the groups had been working on Helphrey’s case for about a year. Despite the low visibility, they claimed they were able to identify Helphrey’s vehicle.

Now, Fleming said he hopes his family can have some closure after 16 years.

“When the family member comes up and gives you a hug and it’s bittersweet, you know, they’re glad you’re there. They wish you weren’t,” Fleming said.

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