Polk deputies recover SUV from pond with body of missing Zephyrhills man inside

Deputies in Polk County say they recovered an SUV submerged in a pond with the body of a missing Zephyrhills man inside.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office said 39-year-old Jose Mercado's family reported him missing around 1 p.m. Thursday, telling investigators he had left a residence around 1 a.m. to go home, but never arrived.

One of Mercado's relatives checked the location of his phone, which showed it was near the intersection of Moore Road and Deen Still Road in the Polk City area.

When the family went to that location, they said they found evidence of a possible crash and contacted the sheriff's office.

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Deputies responded and launched a drone, which spotted what appeared to be a submerged vehicle in the pond.

The sheriff's office Underwater Search and Recovery Team was brought in and removed the SUV from the water.

Investigators said Mercado's body was found inside of the black 2013 Dodge Durango.

According to the sheriff's office, evidence at the scene showed that the SUV had been traveling north on Moore Road at a high rate of speed and failed to stop at the intersection of Deen Still Road, where Moore Road ends.

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That's where they said Mercado's Durango went over an embankment and began to topple end-over-end before landing in the pond.

The sheriff's office said Mercado was not wearing a seat belt.

The investigation into the crash is ongoing.