Diver solves 21-year-old missing persons case, finds car in Tennessee river

A YouTuber who uses sonar technology and scuba dives to help find evidence in missing-person cases has made a chilling discovery at the bottom of a Tennessee river.

As part of Jeremy Beau Sides’ investigation into the disappearance of 18-year-old Erin Foster and 17-year-old Jeremy Bechtel, who both disappeared on April 3, 2000, Sides’ discovery may have solved a 21-year-old cold case, local police say.

Searching for evidence last month using high-end technology, Sides posted a video that went viral showing his search underwater for any evidence relating to the pair.

In a statement posted to Facebook, White County Sheriff Steve Page said that after he and Foster’s family saw the video filmed by Sides, he quickly encouraged the YouTuber to look in a slightly different area.

Sheriff Page made the plea because his department didn’t have access to the same advanced technology used by Sides, who had volunteered his services to the Foster and Bechtel families.

Upon looking in the new area, Sides quickly found Foster’s car submerged in the Calfkiller River. According to local media, he detached the number plates, which matched those of the vehicle Foster drove 21 years ago.

Sheriff Page then confirmed in a Facebook post that the car belonged to Foster. The discovery has now been described as key in solving one of the most unusual disappearances in the history of Tennessee.

In a statement provided to CNN, Sides said he decided to investigate the teenagers’ disappearance after searching a missing person database, where they caught his attention.

Sides’ YouTube channel, which has 120,000 subscribers, typically focuses on cases of “people who vanished off the planet and vanished in their cars”, according to the Washington Post.

“This event, which describes the disappearance of young people named Foster and Bechtel, caught my attention. When I looked at the town where the incident took place, I saw that there was a river here,” he told CNN.

“They have been waiting to be found for 21 years.”

Speaking of the discovery of the vehicle, Sides said he was “speechless” when it became clear it belonged to Foster.

“I’m so glad I could find them; but I’m also very sorry that they ended up in this form,” he said.

“They have been underwater for 21 years and no one can come and find them is a very sad situation. We observed that all the windows of the vehicle were open. Probably the young person driving the vehicle, he lost control of the steering wheel and caused the car to fall into the river.”

Details of how the car ended up in the river are still unknown, however authorities suspect the teens lost control of the Pontiac and went into the water given there was no guard rail along the road back in 2000.

“We have gone in wells, dug up areas, we have used ground-penetrating equipment looking for bodies,” Sheriff Page told the Washington Post.

“[But] it was right under our noses the whole time. … It’s heart-wrenching to know it was that simple, and it was made that hard because of all the rumours and horror stories through the years.”

The speculation around what could’ve happened to the pair has gripped the minds of both teenagers’ families for two decades.

Some suggested they were murdered, while others were convinced they’d run away together to another state.

But now, the theories have finally been put to rest after the discovery of the car.

“I made a promise to the [Foster] family that as long as I was Sheriff I’d be looking for these two kids. I did. I have,” Sheriff Page said following the discovery of the car.

Speaking to The Post, Bechtel’s father Ronnie said the discovery of the car and confirmation it belonged to Foster was like “losing” his son “all over again”.

“It just shattered my heart again,” he said.

“We always kind of thought through the years that something happened, but I just didn’t know what.”

While the medical examiner’s office has not yet confirmed the remains belong to Foster and Bechtel, Sheriff Page is confident the findings will prove they were in the car.

It is understood that Sides is yet to speak directly with the families, given the miraculous discovery he made underwater.

“I was very humbled that I could just help out,” he said.

“I would like to think the police did what they could. But this one just slipped through the cracks.”

It is understood each family will have a separate funeral, but a joint memorial service will also be held to celebrate their lives.

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