Thanks to a group of determined volunteers, the family of a woman missing since 2012 finally feels some closure.
Sunshine State Sonar, a group of Florida-based volunteer divers who use underwater sonar technology to search for missing persons, announced Sunday on Facebook that they had found the remains of Sandra Lemire, an Orlando mother who disappeared nearly 12 years ago.
“We located her vehicle submerged in a retention pond on the side of I4 near the Disney World exit in Kissimmee Florida,” the Facebook post read in part.
On May 8, 2012, Lemire left Orlando for Kissimmee. She had a date with a man she met online. She drove her grandmother’s red minivan.
Lemire called her grandmother to let her know that she had arrived in Kissimmee. Though Lemire promised to call again when she left, she never did.
Since July 2, 2022, Sunshine State Sonar had collaborated with Orlando police to search 63 bodies of water for Lemire. Finally, on Saturday, the group “got a hit on sonar in a small retention pond” near Disney World.
“Our hearts go out to her family who supported us along the way. We are saddened at the circumstances, but glad we could assist in bringing her home. Rest in peace Sandra, you are finally home,” the post concluded.
Sunshine State Sonar’s Facebook post provided a plethora of images and information about the discovery.
For instance, one overhead photo of the State Road 417 exit showed the retention pond circled in red. The same photo also showed at least five other small bodies of water near or adjacent to the same road. That image alone highlighted the immense challenges that confront underwater search-and-recovery teams in Florida.
Lemire left behind a son, Timothy Lemire Jr.
“It looks like she took a exit ramp a little [too] quick and went straight into the water,” Lemire Jr. wrote on Facebook, according to Fox News.
“What hurts the most is me thinking about if she suffered… or if she knew that she was trapped and couldn’t get out! It kills me to even think that she knew she was gonna to pass.. I just don’t know how to take it,” he added.
Sandra’s son has struggled with such thoughts for years.
“He went through hell over this,” his father, Timothy Lemire Sr., said, according to WESH in Orlando.
Intense grief, however, did not prevent Lemire Jr. from expressing gratitude toward Mike Sullivan of Sunshine State Sonar.
“What he did was amazing. And without him and his team, none of this would have been possible,” Lemire Jr. said. “They didn’t ask for a dollar. That’s just the kindness of their heart.”
According to WOFL-TV, Orlando police on Tuesday acknowledged a connection between the recovered red minivan and the Sandra Lemire case. Police also said that efforts to identify the human remains continue.
A family member told WOFL, however, that the remains found inside the minivan were indeed Sandra Lemire’s.
Meanwhile, the circumstances of Sandra’s death now appear less ominous than they once did.
“Deep in my heart. I always thought this was a foul play case. And it turned out to be just a bad, terrible car accident,” Sullivan said, according to WESH. “I’m just so proud of our team.”
That part of the story, at least, brought Timothy Lemire Jr. a small measure of comfort.
“It’s a lot of mixed emotions,” the grieving son said. “I’m happy she wasn’t murdered or kidnapped or anything like that, because we’ve been thinking that for years.”
Indeed, the search and recovery team at Sunshine State Sonar brought Sandra’s family some closure.
Never having suffered the sudden disappearance of a loved one, I cannot say how that closure might feel. But I can imagine that answered questions would act as a balm on spirits tormented by uncertainty.
Sullivan’s team at Sunshine State Sonar provided that bit of healing. And they did it without asking anything in return.
Thus, we may thank God for their skill and kindness.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.