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Car safety precautions have grown in recent years, but this was not the case a few decades ago. Most vehicles didn’t have modern crash-prevention equipment and technology, and some dangerous roads didn’t even have guardrails. This had led many to believe that subpar road safety led to many missing persons and disappearance cases, including one of the most interesting car mysteries. Now, according to the New York Times, the fate of two teens who vanished over 20 years ago was finally discovered in December. 

A old cold case involving missing teens was solved by scuba-diving YouTuber

A crane pulling a car from the Meuse River in Liege, Belgium for a missing persons case
A crane pulling a car from a river | NICOLAS LAMBERT/AFP via Getty Images

In April 2000, Jeremy Bechtel and Erin Foster seemingly disappeared after leaving Foster’s home for a drive. The two were last seen alive inside a Pontiac Grand Am on a rural road in Sparta, Tennessee. At the time, the road in question had few guardrails protecting drivers from sliding into the surrounding rivers.

Jeremy Beau Sides, who runs the YouTube channel called ‘Exploring with Nug’, is an amateur detective specializing in missing persons. Using scuba diving and sonar technology equipment, the 42-year-old YouTuber has explored hundreds of waterlogged cars in search of human remains.

After stumbling upon the two teens in a missing person database, Sides made the drive to Sparta. He didn’t make any discoveries during his first video, but it caught the attention of one of Foster’s family members. They quickly contacted Sheriff Steve Page, who posted about the incident on Facebook.

Page told Sides that he was in the wrong area and directed the diver to Calfkiller River on Highway 84. Armed with that information, Sides quickly located the abandoned vehicle that had a car accident. As soon as he cleared away the algae from the license plate, he knew that he had found the right one.

Sides immediately notified the local police force, who arrived within minutes to help recover the vehicle. Human remains were found inside the Pontiac Grand Am, which needed genetic testing and dental record matching. However, the authorities are almost certain that the remains belong to Foster and Bechtel.

Though Sides was sad to discover that the teens had passed that night, he was overall happy with his discovery. The entire reason he started his YouTube journey was to help bring peace to families affected by missing loved ones, he says. Sides had a hand in solving another cold case in 2005 after finding a missing woman’s car in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Sheriff Page’s press release on Facebook is flooded with textual sighs of relief from the community. The lead investigator in this case, Major John Meadows, was a classmate with the deceased teens. He said that he was humbled to take part in bringing peace to their families.

Cars are often linked to missing persons’ cases and disappearances

An abandoned car is often the only trace of a missing person, such as Kristi Krebs. Before she disappeared, the vehicle that she was driving at the time got stuck in the mud. Krebs apparently revved the engine so much that it eventually caught on fire. While Krebs was able to escape and was ultimately found, the car was completely burnt out.

Years later, Krebs got a different car stuck in the mud. She reportedly wandered away and never came back for it. She was last seen trying to hitchhike around Salt Lake City, Utah.

Lots of old cars and discoveries can be found underwater

While the story of Foster and Bechtel feels tragic, finding driver-less cars underwater holds more intrigue. A 1983 Pontiac Firebird was recently found in a lake 30 years after being stolen. No human remains were found inside, so the thief might have abandoned it due to a guilty conscience.

Elsewhere, a 1987 Ferrari Mondial stayed at the bottom of a river for 26 years before being found by pure accident. To see such a beautiful car soaked and mangled is heartbreaking, but at least it was devoid of remains. This story also has a happier ending. The Mondial is now displayed inside an Amsterdam aquarium.


Can You Take an Abandoned Car?