No sign of missing car, driver
Divers, sonar equipment fail to locate vehicle

Source: SGV Tribune
Author: Ivy Dai
Date: March 14, 2005

Friends and family members of the victim of Saturday's car crash watch Monday as sheriff's deputies use thier sonar in an attempt to locate the submerged vehicle in the San Gabriel Reservior.

Using two boats and sensitive sonar equipment, authorities spent 10 hours canvassing the San Gabriel Reservoir for the Toyota MR2 that crashed near the 22.71 mile-marker just north of the San Gabriel Dam on San Gabriel Canyon Road.

Eight sheriff's divers searched for the car Sunday in water 45 feet deep, but encountered zero visibility, according to sheriff's San Dimas Station Sgt. Larry Wineinger. \par "It was too dark and treacherous for a dive operation,' Wineinger said. "The car could be 100 to 150 feet or deeper.'

Rescuers also searched the hillside leading down to the reservoir in case the man had been ejected from the car.

The man and friends in two other cars were leaving the forest around 6:30 p.m. on Saturday when he lost control on a downhill curve, according to California Highway Patrol spokesman John Escobedo.

Family members watched quietly as the search continued through the day. Police will not release the identity of the missing man until his body is found.

The victim drove his car on the other side of the road to pass traffic shortly before the crash, Escobedo said. The man may have been speeding, and racing is a possibility, CHP Officer John Tapia said.

"We get accidents all the time, but they're not as tragic,' Tapia said. "People don't know how dangerous the road is - once you spin, it takes a really experienced driver to recover from it.'

Fatal accidents in the area occur a couple times per year, and 90 percent of the cars recovered from the reservoir are stolen vehicles pushed off the side, according to Wineinger.

The reservoir is usually dry in March, but recent heavy storms produced high waters making it difficult for officials to find the car, Tapia said. Officials may drain the reservoir if the search takes too long, he said.

As L.A. County Sheriff's divers look on, a late-model Toyota MR-2 is pulled out from 115 feet of water at San Gabriel Dam on March 17, 2005, in Angeles National Forest north of Azusa, California. The driver's body was recovered the day before by L.A. County Sheriff's divers.

Arcardia drive ID's in search
By Christina L. Esparza , Staff Writer

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST -- The man whose car plunged 200 feet into the San Gabriel Reservoir was identified Thursday as divers recovered the car from the murky water.

Pei-hua Tsai, 24, of Arcadia, lost control of his Toyota MR2 on San Gabriel Canyon Road Saturday night and went airborne before landing in the water, said sheriff's Sgt. Larry Wineinger.

Divers located the car Wednesday more than 115 feet deep and recovered the body, officials said.

They worked for about six hours Thursday to get the car out.

Family members could not be reached for comment.

Divers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Emergency Services Detail fished the blue sports car from the water with "lift bags,' floating devices that can hold up to 1,500 pounds each.

Both the front and rear of the car were crushed.

Thick debris and silt chased the crew around the reservoir. Three divers were lifted from the water by helicopter when the boat holding the car finally made it to the side of the reservoir from where the car was towed.

Dion Hatch, a diving lifeguard with the Los Angeles County Lake Lifeguard Association, was observing the recovery Thursday. He was one of the divers who recovered Tsai's body.

"We had visibility about 1 to 3 feet, about 50 feet down,' Hatch said. "It got down to nothing after that.'

Wineinger said it is unusual for a car carrying the driver to go down the side of the canyon.

'We get quite a few vehicles that go over the side, but the vast majority are abandoned or stolen,' Wineinger said.

Also, he said, the reservoir is normally dry.