"It's answers to what happened to their loved one," a member of the search team said.
The body of a middle school teacher who went missing in 2020 was possibly discovered inside the car that belonged to him, according to authorities in Florida. The Volusia Sheriff's Office released a statement saying that Robert Heikka's car was found in the water at Pioneer Trail in Volusia County, between State Roads 44 and 415, per PEOPLE.
The VSO announced on April 8 in a statement on Facebook that water levels in the canal had "recently dropped significantly," revealing the location of the car. According to the Port Orange Police Department, officers have made contact with the missing teacher's family. Although the body discovered inside the automobile has yet to be formally identified, the police suspect it could be Heikka's.
Missing since 2020, Middle School Teacher, Robert Heikka, found deceased inside a submerged car in Volusia County, Florida— Kerri Rawson (@KerriRawson) April 10, 2023
“Law enforcement thanked the Sunshine State Sonar Search Team and Recon Dive Recovery in finding the vehicle.”https://t.co/8RDvehyv0L
Heikka was last seen at his Port Orange residence on October 25, 2020, according to the Port Orange police department. At the time of his disappearance, he was 70 years old. The Florida man was reported missing after being absent from his employment at Creekside Middle School on October 26, 2020, per the Orlando Sentinel. "We thank all involved for bringing some much-needed closure to Mr. Heikka's family," the POPD said on Saturday. "Our prayers and thoughts are with his family."
According to the VSO and POPD, the Sunshine State Sonar Search Team and Recon Dive Recovery assisted in the recovery of the lost car. The roof of the truck appeared to be protruding out of the water, according to Sunshine State Sonar employee Mike Sullivan, who told NBC station WESH that he and others had been walking close to the canal when they noticed it.
The teacher's vehicle had previously been recognized by police as a white 2012 Chevrolet Impala. Photos shared by the VSO from the site in New Smyrna Beach appear to show the submerged Impala and a section of a license plate matching the tag number previously provided by the agency.
Heikka began working for the Volusia County School District in 1989, according to the Sentinel and CBS station WKMG-TV. Since 2002, he had taught at Creekside Middle School in Port Orange. The canal where Heikka's car was discovered is only a few miles from where the late teacher used to live, according to WESH. "It just feels so good to give these families answers," Sullivan told the outlet. "I would never say it's closure, because there is never closure for a family losing someone like this. It's answers to what happened to their loved one."
Robert Heikka was a teacher that went missing in October 2020. His vehicle was finally found with his body inside. I will only show one of the pictures released by LE to be respectful. Water levels had dropped. Port Orange, Florida pic.twitter.com/koywv1vUsY— Rose (@901Lulu) April 11, 2023
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Volusia Sherrif's Office