UPDATE: Body found in San Gabriel Dam may be that of missing Azusa man

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — A body found inside a car submerged in San Gabriel Dam may be that of an Azusa man reported missing 15 months ago, officials said.
Though the body remained unidentified Thursday pending positive identification, the car has been linked to the missing persons case of a disabled man who disappeared in August of last year, according to the California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Department of Coroner.
A CHP officer spotted the car 450 feet over the side of the mountain reservoir shortly before 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. The vehicle was partially submerged in water, CHP Officer Kerri Rivas said.
The man was initially believed to be a disabled Azusa man who was 33 years old when reported missing in August of last year, officials said.
Rivas said next of kin had been notified but she could not release the name until the coroner’s office has made a positive identification of the body.
Initially, a Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter flew above the submerged car but could not see anyone inside. Also, a firefigher who rappelled down to the vehicle could not see the body, she said. “It was noted the driver’s side compartment was submerged.”
Officials summoned a crew from Jan’s Towing to retrieve the black, 1993 Nissan Maxima from the reservoir, according to the CHP.
When the car was pulled up to the roadway, the workers realized there was a body inside and reported it to authorities, she said.
The condition of the body prevented immediate positive identification, authorities said.
As the investigation unfolded, the CHP learned that the Nissan was associated with a missing persons report filed in August 2011.
The family of Fausto Antonio Vidrio reported him missing Aug. 18, 2011 after he dropped off his mother in his hometown of Azusa and disappeared, Detective Diane Harris of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau Missing Persons’ detail said at the time. He was unable to walk and used a wheelchair due to a spinal cord injury and suffered from depression.
He had recently bought the car and had it modified with hand controls, Harris said.
It appeared the body recovered Wednesday had been in the water for a long time, possibly many months, said Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations at the Coroner’s Office. An autopsy was planned to determine the cause of death.
The car and body were noticed when reservoir levels dropped, said county officials.
Leading up to storm season each year, officials at the dam — which supplies drinking water to a significant portion of the San Gabriel Valley — release water downstream into the San Gabriel River and other percolation ponds, said county Department of Public Works spokesman Kerjon Lee.
Workers have been “gradually but steadily” draining water from the dam over recent months at a rate of 25 cubic feet per second, he said.
When full, the San Gabriel Dam holds 44,440 acre-feet, or 14,480,000,000 gallons, Lee said. It contained 3,523 acre-feet Thursday, or 1,148,000,000 gallons of water.

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