PALMDALE – A vehicle with a body inside was found Tuesday buried in six feet of mud in Palmdale, possibly a victim of the recent storm and resulting mudslide that slammed the area.
The buried vehicle was found about 12:50 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, in the 41800 block of Karen Drive, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Firefighters arrived about 10 minutes later and a crew began digging the vehicle out, a fire department inspector said.
By late afternoon, a body had been found inside the vehicle, according to Tony Bell, a spokesman for county Supervisor Mike Antonovich.
Homicide detectives responded to the scene to investigation the circumstances, according to a news release from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau.
“Preliminarily, detectives have learned Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel requested Sheriff’s units to assist with traffic control at the location while they worked to excavate a vehicle which was covered in mud in the drainage culvert. During the excavation, human remains were discovered,” sheriff’s officials said in the news release. [Read it here.]
A witness identified by ABC as Donna said she had called 911 on Thursday, Oct. 15, to report a vehicle caught in a debris flow and then disappearing.
The witness said she told a dispatcher the vehicle had floated for about five minutes and then sank into the debris flow.
At a news conference at the scene Tuesday night, Palmdale City Manager James Purtee said a call came in to authorities Thursday, Oct. 15, that a vehicle had gone into the catch basin. The Fire Department responded but did not find a vehicle in the ravine, Purtee said. They received calls since then, city staff continued to follow up and the vehicle and body were discovered Tuesday when city workers came back out with an excavator, Purtee said.
The victim had not been reported missing, Sheriff’s Homicide Lt. Victor Lewandowski said at the news conference.
“If we had known someone was missing, this would have been a top priority,” the city manager added.
The Palmdale area was hard hit Thursday, Oct. 15, by storms that caused mud and debris flows and flooding.
UPDATED 10.21.15: Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner’s office identified the body as 49-year-old Robert Michael Rasmussen of Palmdale, according to a news release from the Sheriff’s Information Bureau.
UPDATE: Robert Rasmussen was house-sitting in Palmdale for his parents, who were visiting Israel, the Los Angeles Times reported. After not hearing from him for a few days, Rasmussen’s family began calling around but figured they would see him soon, his brother told the LA Times. Rasmussen was a father and painter, the Times reported.