Body found in Merced River identified as Los Banos man

The body of a 32-year-old Los Banos man found early Saturday inside a vehicle submerged in the Merced River has been identified as Robert Simpson, according to the Merced County coroner.

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

Dispatchers got a call about 8 a.m. Saturday regarding a vehicle in the river, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The victim’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, the CHP said.

No other people were in the car.

It was unclear how long the vehicle had been in the river.

The CHP said it does not know 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 is asked to contact the Merced office of the CHP at (209) 385-2900.