Resort man’s submerged car found

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Divers at a remote Southland bay have found the submerged vehicle thought to belong to Queenstown man John Beckenridge.

But they’ve been unable to discover what’s inside. 

Beckenridge, 64, was originally believed to be willingly with in Southland’s Catlins area with Invercargill schoolboy Mike Zhao Beckenridge, 11.

Beckenridge is Mike’s estranged stepfather and his contact with Mike is in breach of a parenting order, police say.

The pair have been missing since March 1, and police have been searching the Southland bay since pieces of Beckenridge’s car washed up last week.

A police spokesman said yesterday afternoon a break in conditions meant police divers were able to enter the water in Curio Bay, and located the vehicle identified by an underwater camera on Friday.

The vehicle is consistent with parts found washed up on the shoreline.

The police spokesman says it “leads us to believe it is the dark blue Volkswagen Touareg we have been trying to locate. However, we are still to confirm this.”

The discovery of the car parts sparked grave fears for the safety of the pair.

Police said yesterday: “At this stage, a very partial search in difficult conditions was unsuccessful in gaining any further information about what is in the vehicle.

“Until police are able to confirm this by extracting the vehicle from the water, which may take some time due to the difficulty in doing this, police will continue to conduct inquiries.”

Curio Bay was “an area of interest”, in a wider investigation.

The spokesman says police have placed a border alert shortly after receiving the original missing person’s report.

Police urge members of the public to stay vigilant, and contact them with any information.

Otago Daily Times