This is incredible.
An employee of a Michigan funeral home was atop a raised forklift to finish decorating a large tree for the upcoming holiday season when he noticed something unusual in a nearby pond.
According to WOOD-TV, Brian Houseman had spotted what appeared to be a submerged vehicle, and in doing so solved a nearly decade-old mystery.
“All of a sudden, it’s like, ‘Whoa, there’s a car out there,’” Houseman said. “No one could ever see it. It was murky and things moved around.”
Amazingly, a quick glance at the location on Google Maps also reveals what appears to be the roof of a submerged car in the large pond.
The Cook Funeral Home in Byron Center quickly notified local authorities, and the Kent County Sheriff’s Office promptly arrived on scene, removing the car from the pond within a couple of hours.
The police immediately discovered in the car what they presume to be the skeletal remains of a man who had been missing for nine years, David Lee Niles, a presumption seemingly confirmed by the man’s wallet and identity cards.
While submerged cars have turned up in other parts of the country after long disappearances, Houseman’s find was special: It brought an end to one family’s waiting.
“For us today, it’s a closure of a long search,” declared Niles’ son-in-law, Scott Hathaway. “Why God waited nine years, I have no idea, but we’re happy.”
Niles, who had been dealing with cancer and depression, had originally disappeared in October of 2006, and was last seen at a nearby bar. Though his family had long searched for him, they had essentially given up hope and accepted the fact that he would never return in 2011.
An obituary for Niles at that time had read, “Davie Lee Niles, age 72, of Wyoming, passed away and only God knows the time and place.”
The family is grateful now for the sense of closure that the discovery of the submerged car has brought, with Hathaway saying, “It’s good to have him home.”
While the Kent County Sheriff’s Office will continue to investigate the incident, and have ruled out the possibility of foul play, it is doubtful if they will ever determine if Niles’ death was a suicide or merely a tragic accident.