Body of Los Banos man found in Merced River

The body of a 32-year-old Los Banos man was found early Saturday inside a vehicle submerged in the Merced River, the California Highway Patrol reported.

The man’s name has not been released.

Officer Jason Schoonhoven said the man’s family told investigators he was traveling Friday night from Los Banos to Turlock on Highway 165, but never arrived and was reported missing.

“Dispatch got a call about 8 a.m. (Saturday) regarding a vehicle in the river,” Schoonhoven said.

According to a CHP news release, the man’s vehicle, a 1998 Lexus SC 300, was pulled from the river just off Highway 165, north of River Road, with the help of the Merced County Sheriff’s Department’s Water Rescue Team.

There were no other people in the car, Schoonhoven said.

It was unclear Saturday exactly how long the vehicle had been in the river before it was spotted.

The CHP said it is unknown why the Lexus left the roadway and that the cause remains under investigation.

Anyone who may have seen the driver beforehand or who has any information regarding the incident is asked to contact the Merced office of the CHP at (209) 385-2900.