UPDATED: Car Plunges Into The River - Right Beneath Our Window at 5AM This Morning! Driver NO LONGER Missing

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    Mar 09, 2014 12:42 PM GMT
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    Picture I took of a Toyota 4RUNNER being brought out of river just before sunrise

    Our 2nd-floor condo faces a river, with parking between our building and the river wall. At 5 this morning EDT, a car went over the wall into the river from the parking lot for some unknown reason.

    Our downstairs neighbor heard the noise, saw the car lights on the water, and phoned 911. Next she phoned us, still asleep, to help with the rescue. Our neighbor didn't see anyone get out of the car, but she had gone inside her condo for a few minutes while she was phoning.

    I raced downstairs, and saw the car was already totally submerged beneath several feet of water, lights still on. I was about to jump in when the police arrived, and they quickly went into the water themselves. I must say our Wilton Manors police, fire and EMS always respond very rapidly.

    Our neighbor gave them a hammer to smash the door windows underwater if needed. They found no passengers, and the driver's door was open. EMS and fire trucks had now arrived, and equipped divers went into the river. They also found no victims. Meanwhile the police followed wet footprints across the parking lot to our building's locked back entrance, and up the stairwell to the 3rd floor, but then lost the trail on the dark carpet.

    For whatever reason the police did not do a search of the floor. It seems pretty obvious someone dripping wet went up the stairs, but it's unknown how many people may have been in the car. If someone escaped they may not want to face the police right now if they're intoxicated.

    The divers retrieved documents from the car's glovebox, and later a wallet and cell phone, all from the same person, with a Georgia address, and the car is tagged in Georgia, too. But not a resident we know (we checked our official list, nor did his photo look familiar), so perhaps a non-screened guest staying here, who technically should not have had a building key.

    Whoever this guy is, he now has no car, no driver's license, no credit cards, no ID & medical cards, and may even be injured. I'm still surprised the police didn't do a room-by-room search, based on a potential medical emergency. Did he have any passengers who drowned or were injured? Will their bodies float down to the ocean a couple of miles away?
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    Mar 09, 2014 1:10 PM GMT
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    A big Kenworth wrecker like they use for semi trucks.

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    Not too banged up, but the police told me it was a total loss, due to complete water immersion damage.
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    Mar 09, 2014 2:10 PM GMT
    I spoke with one of the Deputy County Sheriffs before they left here. When a car ends up in a river or canal the County gets involved. We had at least 6 patrol cars, EMS, 2 fire engines, and 2 wreckers in our parking lot, all with their lights flashing.

    He didn't seem too concerned about the whereabouts of the car's driver. "The usual pattern is they report that their car was stolen, to preserve their car insurance claim, and avoid getting a driving citation."

    But as he went on to say, the problem here is that his wallet and cell phone were found in the car, as well as keys in the ignition. If he says he was at some night spot when his car was swiped, why wasn't his wallet with him? Or if he says he was at home, any card purchases at a club can be traced. And how did they get his wallet, cell phone & keys? If he doesn't report the car "theft" quickly his credibility will be zero.
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    Mar 09, 2014 3:06 PM GMT
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  • coolarmydude

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    Mar 09, 2014 3:14 PM GMT
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    Mar 09, 2014 5:18 PM GMT
    woodsmen saidWow!

    Never a dull moment in paradise. icon_biggrin.gif
  • rnch

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    Mar 09, 2014 5:45 PM GMT
    Sounds suspiciously like "Jewish Lightning" to me.



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    Mar 09, 2014 6:03 PM GMT
    southbeach1500 saidWell I am glad nobody was (apparently) killed or seriously injured.

    This is an interesting mystery. Unauthorized short term renters are a big problem here in S. Florida. Our building is always on alert to try and thwart them and the owners who violate the condo rules.

    Does your condo have any video cameras set up? If so, you might be able to turn the tapes over to the police to assist them in the investigation.

    No video surveillance, though it is under consideration.

    And in just relating this to an attorney friend of ours, he expressed a concern I had already wondered about: lawsuit against the condo association.

    The basis being insufficient barriers to prevent entry into the river. And since the guy hasn't been found yet, and therefore cannot be proven as intoxicated at the time, he may have a case. We'll see...
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    Mar 09, 2014 6:38 PM GMT
    southbeach1500 said
    ART_DECO said
    southbeach1500 saidWell I am glad nobody was (apparently) killed or seriously injured.

    This is an interesting mystery. Unauthorized short term renters are a big problem here in S. Florida. Our building is always on alert to try and thwart them and the owners who violate the condo rules.

    Does your condo have any video cameras set up? If so, you might be able to turn the tapes over to the police to assist them in the investigation.

    No video surveillance, though it is under consideration.

    And in just relating this to an attorney friend of ours, he expressed a concern I had already wondered about: lawsuit against the condo association.

    The basis being insufficient barriers to prevent entry into the river. And since the guy hasn't been found yet, and therefore cannot be proven as intoxicated at the time, he may have a case. We'll see...

    Lawsuits against the Association are always a major pain in the neck, not to mention they can become quite costly. Do seriously consider the video cameras - the Association will likely be able to get a break on insurance and it will pay for itself over time.

    Video surveillance may not have shown anything relevant in this case. We were considering it for crime prevention.
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    Mar 11, 2014 10:15 AM GMT
    UPDATED: The driver of the car that went into the river has been located. He actually phoned the police Monday, asking if they knew where his car was, along with his wallet, cell phone, and keys. Exactly as the police had predicted to me.

    And at the same time, a condo unit owner phoned my husband, the Association Vice President, asking what he needed to do to acquire a new building access key, since key issuance is controlled by our management company for security reasons, no bonded & licensed locksmith will copy our keys without proper authorization.

    But the owner wasn't aware of the real reason for needing a new key. His renter had lied to him and said he lost it himself in a conventional way. So my husband told him we just learned your renter had an unscreened roommate staying with him, 2 guys instead of 1 in your place.

    And it wasn't your approved renter who lost the key, it was his non-approved, illegal roommate, after driving his car into the river. Who created all this trouble, that may be costing the condo association, and ultimately the unit owner if they fine him, some money.

    The condo unit owner is now considering evicting his legitimate renter, who snuck in this unauthorized roommate and lied about the lost key. And the condo attorney is being consulted to see if the association can force an immediate eviction of the renter, based on violation of occupancy rules.

    The unauthorized roommate who drove into the river will definitely be gone quickly, he has no standing whatsoever under Florida condo laws, and the owner doesn't want him there. In fact, the association will fine the owner $100 a day for the illegal roommate if he isn't gone immediately.

    So that guy really screwed up royally. No car (he may eventually get an insurance settlement, if he has coverage, but the car is totalled), no working cell phone, no place to stay, and soon possibly no job. I haven't learned yet if the police cited him when he went to retrieve his driver's license, bank cards, cell phone and keys from them.

    And he's gonna get a whopping bill for the cost of all this, that included 3 tow trucks, EMS, divers, and gawd knows what other assessments. I also learned Monday that the 2 Wilton Manors police officers who went initially into the water had to be given time off Monday for a series of shots, including tetanus, because the river is polluted. Maybe that'll be chargeable to the driver, too. And he should be getting his own shots, as well.
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    Mar 11, 2014 3:44 PM GMT
    pellaz said
    ART_DECO said ... it wasn't your approved renter who lost the key, it was his non-approved, illegal roommate, after driving his car into the river. Who created all this trouble, that may be costing the condo association, and ultimately the unit owner if they fine him, some money ...

    sounds like lots of HOA drama queen attention needed

    HOAs are notorious for drama. But I'm more than happy to visit a little return drama on the renter & roommate who were responsible for my husband & me being woken at 5 in the morning, by a resident screaming that a car just went under the water right outside, and there may be people trapped inside.

    At nearly 80, following recent heart surgery and a stroke, he doesn't need that kind of shock. Nor at 65 do I, quite frankly. And running to jump in the water, just as the police arrived and took over. And then helping the police search for the guy (or guys, we didn't know how many then), who could be hiding somewhere in the complex, perhaps not a resident here and afraid to show himself, but leaving everyone else in a panic, divers now searching underwater with floodlights.

    And of course ultimately finding out there's been an unscreened, unknown roommate living in our building, with a key and free access, who hasn't gone through a criminal background check, like everyone else must who lives here. Unable to find his name on our resident list as the police are pulling his ID out of the water, making this HOA look like bozos. Yeah, that's drama all right. icon_mad.gif
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    Mar 11, 2014 4:16 PM GMT
    pellaz said
    ART_DECO said ... there's been an unscreened, unknown roommate living in our building, with free access, who hasn't gone through a criminal background check, like everyone else must who lives here ...

    cheers:
    its an expression of freedom to have any rent boy you wanticon_question.gif

    Not in many HOAs. In ours, even owners must have a criminal background check and be screened in person by a committee before being allowed to purchase a condo unit. Same for their renters or roommates, anyone other than a minor child.

    You can have overnight visitors (or rent bois) staying with you, up to 30 days continuous, but you cannot lend them your building key. You must let them in yourself each time. If they're caught using your key you can be fined $100.

    Even your family members are not exempt. If your Mom is visiting sunny Florida at your condo here she's limited to 30 days, or else you pay $150 to have a background check done on her, plus a committee screening.

    Condo break-ins are a major problem in South Florida, partly because so many are only occupied seasonally, as a number in our complex are. Security therefore becomes a big issue. And in trying to keep all our units owned, which lowers monthly maintenance assessments for everyone, we must convince potential new buyers and current owners that our security arrangements are good. Sunday morning revealed a major fail.
  • rnch

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    Mar 11, 2014 5:40 PM GMT
    pellaz said
    ART_DECO said ... it wasn't your approved renter who lost the key, it was his non-approved, illegal roommate, after driving his car into the river. Who created all this trouble, that may be costing the condo association, and ultimately the unit owner if they fine him, some money ...


    sounds like lots of HOA drama queen attention needed




    Those who try to "stir the cauldron" (cough*pellaz*cough) and instigate drama, where no drama exists, are the most irritating of all drama queens.
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    Mar 11, 2014 6:37 PM GMT
    This is morphing from potentially tragic to theatre of the absurd. I just got an email (I'm not home) that the police went to interview the nearly-drowned roommate in the condo, where he still is. Accompanying them was a female condo board member.

    He answered the door stark naked. I can't wait to get back home and talk with "Pat", it should be hilarious. icon_lol.gif
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    Mar 11, 2014 7:53 PM GMT
    pellaz saidnaked; is there another better way to answer the door when the police knock?

    ummm... It might become an issue if they already have a warrant, cuff you and take you away. icon_redface.gif
  • coolarmydude

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    Mar 11, 2014 10:17 PM GMT
    ART_DECO saidThis is morphing from potentially tragic to theatre of the absurd. I just got an email (I'm not home) that the police went to interview the nearly-drowned roommate in the condo, where he still is. Accompanying them was a female condo board member.

    He answered the door stark naked. I can't wait to get back home and talk with "Pat", it should be hilarious. icon_lol.gif


    hCFA62357
  • CuriousJockAZ

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    Mar 11, 2014 10:52 PM GMT
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    Mar 12, 2014 12:59 AM GMT
    southbeach1500 said
    ART_DECO saidThis is morphing from potentially tragic to theatre of the absurd. I just got an email (I'm not home) that the police went to interview the nearly-drowned roommate in the condo, where he still is. Accompanying them was a female condo board member.

    He answered the door stark naked. I can't wait to get back home and talk with "Pat", it should be hilarious. icon_lol.gif

    This roommate sounds a bit peculiar.

    I never met him, he kept a low profile, for obvious reasons. The renter tried to tell the Association President today that the guy had only been here 2 weeks, so he could remain for another 2 weeks, within the allowable 30 days.

    She said no, his car had been seen by her and others for about 2 months now, parking in different guest spaces around the complex. He took the renters assigned space Sunday morning when he drove into the river.

    The roommate appeared to later move out today, he just had some luggage. As for the renter, he'll leave when his lease expires in May, there doesn't seem any interest in the hassle of evicting him sooner.
  • coolarmydude

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    Mar 12, 2014 3:38 AM GMT
    ART_DECO saidAs for the renter, he'll leave when his lease expires in May, there doesn't seem any interest in the hassle of evicting him sooner.


    Considering the legal process to evict someone who is legally there, it's a moot point if he only has 2-1/2 months left on the lease. The eviction process takes at least 2 months.
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    Mar 12, 2014 3:54 AM GMT
    ART_DECO saidThis is morphing from potentially tragic to theatre of the absurd. I just got an email (I'm not home) that the police went to interview the nearly-drowned roommate in the condo, where he still is. Accompanying them was a female condo board member.

    He answered the door stark naked. I can't wait to get back home and talk with "Pat", it should be hilarious. icon_lol.gif


    So he's into skinny dipping too and not just the car.
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    Mar 12, 2014 1:41 PM GMT
    coolarmydude said
    ART_DECO saidAs for the renter, he'll leave when his lease expires in May, there doesn't seem any interest in the hassle of evicting him sooner.

    Considering the legal process to evict someone who is legally there, it's a moot point if he only has 2-1/2 months left on the lease. The eviction process takes at least 2 months.

    Yes, I believe that's the reasoning of both the condo unit owner toward his renter, and also of the condo association. Unlike the unauthorized roommate who's already departed, the legitimate renter has a lease.

    And really the provisions that slow the eviction process protect honest tenants against predatory landlords. So while the association might like to see that dishonest renter gone sooner, in this case it's six of one, half dozen of another.

    Plus frankly it gives the owner some time to find a new renter to immediately move in after the old tenant moves out, so he won't lose much rental income. Some backstory:

    The condo unit owner is an airline flight attendant. He was seldom here anyway, we rarely saw him. And then he began living at the nearby house of a new gay lover he met. So he decided to rent his place, and found another flight attendant who likewise needed something at the Fort Lauderdale end of his flights.

    But then the renter was seldom here, either, always traveling. Being a 2-bedroom unit, the renter decided to reduce his costs by bringing in an unauthorized roommate. I don't know their personal relationship or what the roommate's job is, because none of us even knew he was there.

    Damn thing is, the roommate COULD have been legally living here, with the owner's permission, and a condo screening. I'm guessing the 2 guys wanted to avoid the $150 background search fee, and/or he had something in his criminal record that would have disqualified him. So now they're both out.
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    Mar 23, 2014 2:54 PM GMT
    Maybe an Airbnb guest??
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    Mar 23, 2014 3:27 PM GMT
    NJDewd saidMaybe an Airbnb guest??

    LOL! Maybe how it started, though I doubt it. More likely just a guy the renter knew through ordinary personal contacts, who needed a room, and the renter saw a chance to lower his own costs. Everybody does it, only in our complex you need permission.

    And the renter knew the rules, because when the Condo Assoc. President told him the unauthorized roommate had to leave, the renter falsely claimed the guy had only been there as his guest for 2 weeks, and could stay up to 30 days. Which proved he knew the occupancy rules full-well (and which new residents sign for legal record), and knew he was violating them. Good-bye. icon_biggrin.gif
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    Mar 23, 2014 3:47 PM GMT
    ART_DECO said
    NJDewd saidMaybe an Airbnb guest??

    LOL! Maybe how it started, though I doubt it. More likely just a guy the renter knew through ordinary personal contacts, who needed a room, and the renter saw a chance to lower his own costs. Everybody does it, only in our complex you need permission.

    And the renter knew the rules, because when the Condo Assoc. President told him the unauthorized roommate had to leave, the renter falsely claimed the guy had only been there as his guest for 2 weeks, and could stay up to 30 days. Which proved he knew the occupancy rules full-well (and which new residents sign for legal record), and knew he was violating them. Good-bye. icon_biggrin.gif


    So they can evict the owner? How does that work legally?
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    Mar 23, 2014 3:51 PM GMT
    southbeach1500 said
    NJDewd saidMaybe an Airbnb guest??

    Those services are a scourge, with many of their "properties for short term bookings" violating condo rules.

    Naturally Airbnb relies upon the statements of the people offering the property, that they are complying with appropriate local public ordinances and homeowner agreements. And the poor innocent visitors are caught in the middle, acting in good faith but finding themselves in the middle of legal disputes.

    An even worse variant of this was happening in Key West a few years ago, as well as some other resort destinations. Where homes are occupied seasonally, and closed up for much of the year.

    Scam artists (not involving Airbnb to my knowledge) would locate these shuttered homes, and privately advertise them online and in publications for rental. I'm not sure why empty houses were the favorite target, perhaps it reduced the risk of fraud detection.

    People would pay in advance, particularly from Europe, then arrive in Key West to find them locked, with no one to deal with. Or in one case, the owners had by then returned, when these Germans arrived at their front door, demanding entrance. And the Germans wouldn't take no for an answer, insisting the owners leave! It made quite the story in Key West, and led to some local attempts to reform the property rental process.