Robert Heikka’s car found in Volusia County, Florida

Robert Heikka went missing in October 2020. (Image of his car via Volusia Sheriff’s Office; Image of Heikka via Port Orange Police Department)

Volusia County, Florida deputies announced they had discovered a missing teacher’s car with a body inside, and while they said no positive identification had been made, their counterparts from police describe the discovery as “much needed closure” for the man’s family.

The missing person notice stated that Robert Heikka disappeared from Port Orange at the age of 70 on October 25, 2020. He was leaving his home in his white 2020 Chevrolet Impala. His phone was last sent to the Interstate 4 and State Road 44 area.

Underwater Research Images (Volusia Sheriff’s Office)

The Volusia Sheriff’s Office said Saturday that Heikka’s car was found in a canal along Pioneer Trail. The water level had “recently dropped significantly”, they said.

“The car was pulled from the water, with 1 deceased occupant discovered inside,” they wrote. The Port Orange Police Department was in contact with Heikka’s family, they said.

Law enforcement credited Sunshine State’s sonar search team and Recon Dive Recovery for finding the vehicle.

Underwater photo of car and license plate (Volusia Sheriff’s Office)

“Through the hard work and dedication of the many people involved, his vehicle has been located,” cops wrote. “The Volusia Sheriff’s Office responded with resources and greatly assisted in the recovery after the vehicle was discovered. We thank everyone involved for bringing much-needed closure to Mr. Heikka’s family. Thank you all. Our prayers and thoughts go out to his family. »

The Sunshine State Sonar Research Team described Heikka as a middle school teacher, who had worked for Volusia County Schools since 1989. He had taught at Creekside Middle School since 2002.

“When the beloved teacher and colleague failed to show up on October 26, staff attended Heikka’s home in the Waters Edge subdivision where he lived alone,” the organization wrote. “There was no response from him, so they went to the police.”

The car was found submerged in water (Volusia Sheriff’s Office)

Sunshine State Sonar said they and Recon Dive Recovery contacted Port Orange detectives on the second anniversary of her disappearance. A ground and sonar search of more than 70 bodies of water between his home and Orlando turned up nothing, so they returned to the area of ​​his last cellphone ping.

“This particular area has been extensively searched by multiple sonar teams without success,” they wrote. “While conducting a ground search in November 2022, we hiked Pioneer Trail and came across a small canal in the woods. This small body of water was set back 75 feet from the road and was covered in trees and brush. At the time of the search we had no sonar equipment and the channel seemed extremely unlikely given its size. We returned to this body of water five months later for a second look. Water levels had dropped 50% in this area since our last search. Using special sonar equipment, we checked the depths of this tiny channel. Realizing the channel was only 4 feet deep, we did a visual inspection from end to end. It was then that we discovered Robert’s vehicle on the other end, sitting upright with the roof partially exposed.

They wrote that Heikka lost control of his car on the night of October 25, 2020, crashing through 75 feet of trees and brush before ending up in the canal.

The Port Orange Police Department did not immediately respond to a request from Law&Crime for more information.

“We would like to express our sincere condolences to Robert’s friends and family,” they wrote. “This is an extremely sad case with such a tragic ending.”

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