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Volunteer divers found human remains in car from 42-year-old mystery: ‘We passed that pond everyday’

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The chief of a volunteer dive team couldn’t believe it when his diver, Scott Rose, radioed, “We got a bravo,” a code word the team uses when a diver finds something important. 

First, it was a radiator that matched a specific car they were looking for from a 1982 cold case, then came two wheels with hubcaps from the same car, Sidney Dive Team Chief Steve Swain told Fox News Digital.

“At that time, we asked the diver to do a search around the vehicle, and that’s when he found a few remains” in a detonated Camaro buried about 15 feet deep in Jack’s Creek in Washington, North Carolina, Swain said.

That could be the key to solving the mysterious disappearances of William Clifton, David McMicken and Michael Norman, who seemingly vanished on Dec. 10, 1982, after leaving a bar in Chocowinity, about a 30-minute drive from the dive site.

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Once they found the remains, they needed to “put plan B together,” Swain said. “What are we going to do next?”

“We thought the car was upside down, but it was actually sitting on its wheels, but just everything above the wheels had deteriorated,” Swain said. 

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That’s when they called the local authorities, which in this case was police from Washington, North Carolina, to figure out the best way to get the pieces of the car out of the water without destroying potential evidence.

After getting the necessary permits and preparations, they ultimately drained most of the body of water while the university anthropology experts studied the remains. 

As the water was pumped out, they were able to get to the car, and the VIN number was a match to the missing 1975 Camaro that the missing trio drove in 1982.

Throughout the operation, family members, including McMicken’s daughter, Kayla Melendres, stayed on scene. 

“Stepping onto the site, the reality hit me deeply,” she said. 

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Swain remembers the family members thanking Swain, Rose and the team for all their efforts. 

“They were supportive of our efforts and appreciative to our team, and you know that’s why we’re here,” Swain said. “Most of dives are rescue missions, they’re recovery missions. But we want to bring some closure to the family to help the healing process. 

The eeriest part about the whole mission, Swain said, is how many times they all drove by that body of water. 

It’s like a retention pond in a busy area that feeds into Pungo Creek in Beaufort County, North Carolina. 

“We all rode passed this pumping station thousands of times over the years, and we just never went in there,” Swain said. 

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The reason they were there at all is a YouTuber named Jason Souhrada, a Myrtle Beach native, found something peculiar in the water while he was using a remote-controlled sonar device. 

He took the sonar images to several experts, including the all-volunteer dive team, and Swain said, “It definitely looked like something we should dive for.”

That was back in December. The team made preparations, and set up the dive for Feb. 9, when they made the incredible discovery. 

“I’m just so thankful the guy with the sonar took the initiative to look at this cold case, and say, ‘Hey, I think there’s something here,'” Swain said. “We’re very fortunate to do what we did and accomplish what we got done.”

Police said they would have to wait for the remains to be positively identified before determining whether any foul play might have been involved.

The families of the missing men are now awaiting the results of the identification process. In a joint statement, the families have requested privacy to grieve, reflect and process these events in their own time.

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“They were very appreciative of us,” Washington Police Chief Rollinson said. “They expressed how thankful they were that so many people were involved in the effort to recover the vehicle and what remains we could recover. We just want to give them some closure.”

Lea Rose, Clifton’s daughter, emphasized the families’ collective gratitude.

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“Without Jason Souhrada’s sacrifice, taking time away from his family to help ours, we wouldn’t have this potential chance for closure,” she said. “This has reopened wounds, initiating the grieving process anew for three families. Despite the pain, there’s a slight relief in finally having some answers.”

“I feel like I am in a dream of sorts,” ReAnne Mayo, Clifton’s other daughter, told Fox News. “I never thought to prepare myself had we found them. For years, I may have been watching the sunset near the creek with my father nearby and never knew it.”

Fox News Digital’s Emily Robertson contributed to this report.

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