POLITICS

Police identify body found in car at the bottom of a bay in Nova Scotia

04/02/2013 03:20 EDT | Updated 06/02/2013 05:12 EDT
ST. ANNS, N.S. - Police divers recovered the body Tuesday of an 81-year-old man who drove his car off the end of a small cable ferry and into an icy bay in Cape Breton more than a week ago.

The Mounties say Jerry Hengeveld of Waterville, N.S., was the lone occupant of a car that boarded the ferry at Englishtown, N.S., on March 25.

Witnesses say the car failed to stop once it was on the ferry, hitting an elevated ramp at one end and plunging into St Anns Bay.

A subsequent search for the car was delayed last week by strong currents and pack ice.

Searchers using side-scan sonar found a large object Tuesday at 11:15 a.m., about 200 metres from where the ferry operates.

After divers confirmed it was a vehicle, a fishing boat was used to pull it closer to shore.

Hengeveld's 2007 Toyota Camry was left underwater as his body was removed and lifted into a boat around 2 p.m.

RCMP Sgt. Craig Yorke said investigators do no suspect foul play.

He said in a telephone interview that Hengeveld's body has been sent to Halifax for an autopsy.

The sergeant also said the car will be inspected for potential mechanical problems.

Yorke said police have no video of the incident and the captain and deckhand who witnessed Hengeveld driving off the ferry weren't able to offer explanations of the man's actions.

He said police will attempt to find possible reasons for why Hengeveld drove off the ferry.

"We're trying to see if there are underlying factors, such as a mechanical problem (with the car), or ... diseases this individual may have had," he said.

The man's family has said he had been driving around visiting friends last week but they became concerned about him and contacted the police Friday to report him missing.