Press release from the California Highway Patrol:
On Wednesday, 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 a.m. on Wednesday, 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.