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Volunteer group help Polk County Sheriff find missing woman's car

Kia in lake
Posted at 10:10 PM, Feb 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-04 07:15:29-05

What started out as dives for underwater treasures and trash, has now turned into dives for answers—for the group called "Adventures with Purpose."

"We've been focused on that the last two years," said the group's lead diver, Doug Bishop.

They've been focused on using their talents and tools to search bodies of water for missing people.

And in the last few years, they say they've helped solve at least 26 cases across the country.

"It's a very bittersweet feeling, but this is our purpose," said Bishop.

And that purpose, led them to Lakeland this week to search for 59-year-old Margaret Smith. She went missing in April of 2021 after a car crash near Socrum Loop Road North and Old Polk City Road.

According to the Polk County Sheriff's Office, their search led them to Smith's car, which was found submerged in a community retention pond.

"You know when Jared and I were in the boat and were running sonar, like we always do, we knew the second the car came up on sonar that this was the car," said Bishop.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office said a woman's body was also found in that car.

And though they're still working to identify her, Bishop said the group believes it's Smith.

He adds that she may have gotten turned around after her car accident and mistakenly drove into that pond.

"We do believe that this was all due to an accident. She does have the onset of dementia and she could not see at night as well, she didn't have her glasses," he said.

Kia crash

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has released the following statement:

"This was a tragic accident, and our prayers are with the family. We're grateful for 'Adventures with Purpose' working with us in locating the vehicle."

If you have a tip about an unsolved case or if you want to learn more about their cause, you can visit the Adventures with Purpose website.