Body found in submerged vehicle identified

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE — The body recovered from a vehicle submerged in the Detroit River Aug. 15 was identified as a missing Lincoln Park man.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner confirmed the remains were of Thomas D. Lange, who was reported missing Dec. 30, 2003. He was 30 at the time of his disappearance.

The body was initially found without a head, police said, but it was found in a subsequent search of the area Aug. 16 and sent to the medical examiner for a check of the dental records. Police Chief Daniel Grant said the body was identified by the dental records, but a cause of death could not be determined.

Due to the poor condition of the remains, he said, there was not enough evidence to determine if Lange died from a homicide.

A recreational diver discovered the vehicle, a 1999 Mercury Sable registered to Lange, submerged in the Detroit River close to the Wyandotte Boat Club, 1 Pine St. The Downriver Underwater Search and Rescue Team began their search around 1 p.m. and pulled the vehicle out of the river near BASF Waterfront Park about 4 p.m.

Fire Chief Jeffrey Carley said the vehicle was resting upside-down in 25 feet of water and most likely went into the river about 100 yards from where it was found.

Police said they only expected to find the vehicle, but found the remains in the backseat. The vehicle registration expired in 2004, and police believe the vehicle may have been submerged since then.

(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at