SEMINOLE, Fla. (WFLA) — Dive teams searching for a missing Florida man found two cars submerged in a lake in Seminole that had been there for over 40 years.
Crews found the vehicles in Lake Blossom while searching for Robert David Helphrey, an Army veteran who has not been seen for nearly 17 years. He was last spotted leaving a bar in Palm Harbor at around midnight on May 26, 2006, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
A 1960s Dodge Coronet and 1950s Volkswagen Beetle were removed from the lake Monday by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office dive team, assisted by the Sunshine State Sonar Search Team and Recon Dive Recovery.
“Everyone involved knew this was going to be an extremely challenging task considering the age and condition of the vehicles,” Sunshine State Sonar Search Team wrote on Facebook.
Photos from Monday’s removal showed the mangled frames of the vehicles being lifted from the water. On Facebook, Recon Dive Recovery said the Dodge was more intact before the recovery process began.
“A boom truck was unavailable for an upward pull, and waters were too shallow for effective lift bag operations with the slings available,” Recon Dive Recovery wrote.
Sunshine State Sonar Search Team said the Coronet had a license plate from Ohio in 1974. It is not clear how the vehicles ended up in the lake.
On the night Helphrey disappeared, he had planned to meet with another man, but the man said he never showed up. Helphrey hasn’t been heard from since.
The sheriff’s office said Helphrey was the manager of a successful restaurant in Palm Harbor called the Thirsty Marlin. He left behind a daughter and a dog.
The vehicles located by divers were not related to the missing veteran’s case, Sunshine State Sonar Search Team said. If you have any information about Helphrey’s disappearance, contact the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.