NEW ORLEANS -- Less than 24 hours after a car plunged off the Judge Seeber Bridge, the wreckage and a body were pulled from the Industrial Canal.
The Seeber Bridge, also known as the Claiborne Avenue Bridge, has been closed for repairs. On Wednesday afternoon, though, a car ran through the barricades and plunged off the bridge.
The Coroner's Office has identified the deceased as 46-year-old David Wayne Cox of St. Bernard Parish.
Witnesses described what happened just before the car fell into the water.
"It seemed like something from a movie," said Lloyd Kelly, a witness who had been fishing nearby at the time.
Around 1 p.m. on Thursday, a salvage company pulled the gray, four-door ,1992 Volvo, with a Louisiana license plate, out of the Industrial Canal. Inside the car, they found the body of a man, who police believe was the driver.
"Based on the information that we received, as well as surveying the vehicle and also other information that we have, we believe that there was only one occupant at the time the vehicle had gone off the bridge," said New Orleans Police Asst. Supt. Marlon Defillo.
With the state Department of Transportation repairing the bridge, signs and barricades had been put up to warn drivers not to use it. Witnesses said they heard the car crash through the barricades on Wednesday and then heard the car speed up.
"We were out here fishing and we just heard a car revving up and we looked up and saw the car just come up off the bridge and just went down like a rock in water," Kelly said.
Rescuers began searching for the car, including the Coast Guard, who set up a 500-foot perimeter around the area in the canal, to keep maritime traffic away.
"At that point, we launched our 25 response boat immediately, to get on scene," said Lt. JG Joshua Vinci of the U.S. Coast Guard. "We conducted multiple search patterns, we're out here for approximately for seven hours, with our crews doing search patterns."
"That's going to be a part of the investigation," Asst. Supt. Defillo said. "We are going to work with the Coroner's office, do toxicology to determine if alcohol played a factor, if at all."
However, nightfall and deteriorating weather caused them to call off the search. It resumed Thursday morning at 6 a.m., using sonar to locate wreckage in the murky canal. Seven hours later, they recovered the car. Now, investigators are trying to figure out what may have led the driver to this point, including looking at the possibility that it may have been a suicide.