Authorities have identified the man and woman who were found dead inside their van, after it reportedly drove into the water near Jetty Park in Venice.
Father and daughter Eugene and Carol Hayden were in the vehicle.
Venice police: two passengers in van that went into water are Eugene and carol hayden. Father daughter @abcactionnews
— Jake Peterson (@JakePetersonTV) May 9, 2017
— Jake Peterson (@JakePetersonTV) May 10, 2017
According to Venice Fire Chief Shawn Carvey, the van drove into the water near the bathrooms at the Jetty park shortly after 4:00 p.m.
Tim Cobb was on a boat when he saw the van in the water. He said he tried to help the passenger get out of the van.
"The gentleman in the passenger seat was trying to unlock the doors, but with the water pressure it was impossible to open," said Cobb.
He said the Hayden's were trying everything they could to get out of the vehicle.
"They were frozen with fear, but they were trying to get out, I would like the family to know they were trying to get out," said Cobb.
Venice Police and Fire Rescue, along with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and beach lifeguards, were able to locate the van after searching for a few hours. Crews indicate a strong current made it tricky for divers to find the van underneath the water.
— SarasotaSheriff (@SarasotaSheriff) May 8, 2017
— SarasotaPD (@sarasotapd) May 8, 2017
“I just happen to be looking right there when the van started to go down,” My Demy said.
Demy witnessed when the van drove off the jetty and into the water.
“Then it started drifting with the tide,” Demy said.
People rushed to help. Some even jumped off their boat into the water.
“I thought they were going to get saved for sure. It was floating for a while like all the way down the jetty and then it just sank and I was like…,” Matt Fuentes shook his head.
Crews towed the van to Higel Park where they processed it for evidence. Authorities said preliminarily they were treating the investigation as a traffic homicide. The man and woman did not survive. Their identities have not been released. The investigation continues.