Car found in Lake Norman belonged to woman missing since 2008, investigators say

CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. — Crews pulled a car out of Lake Norman Wednesday afternoon that Catawba County deputies said belonged to a woman reported missing 15 years ago.

Investigators told Channel 9′s Dave Faherty a fisherman found the car in the Mountain Creek area of Lake Norman, off of Mount Pleasant Road. Deputies said it’s linked to the 2008 disappearance of 43-year-old Tina Martin.

Deputies said family members had reported Martin missing that year, and she was last seen at her Catawba County home on Feb. 13, 2008. Martin and her vehicle, a white 1996 Ford Thunderbird, have been missing since that time, deputies said.

A diver was able to see both the license plate and the make of the car in the lake. Once it was removed, they were able to confirm that it was Martin’s car.

Around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, authorities started trying to remove the car from the lake.

The fisherman who spotted the vehicle was using a sonar fish finder in about 25 feet of water. Then, divers and a salvage and recovery company brought in floats to lift the car to the surface, and then Chopper 9 Skyzoom captured video as a wrecker hoisted it out of the water.

“It will be absolutely pitch black, dark, cold and you have about a foot and a half of visibility,” said Robert Scott with Tow Boats USA.

“Barely see in front of your face?” Faherty asked.

“Barely see anything,” Scott replied.

Investigators confirmed they found human remains inside the car and are asking for a DNA analysis of them from the medical examiner’s office.

Faherty learned that back in the mid-2000s, when Martin’s case was opened, that section of road did not have some of the safety features it has today, including guardrails.

“I can’t speak to why the vehicle ended up in the lake,” Catawba County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Aaron Turk said. “It is my understanding that some of these guardrails were not fully in place back during the time of the initial disappearance.”

The circumstances surrounding Martin’s disappearance remain under investigation, deputies said. There was no word on whether foul play was involved in the case.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

(WATCH BELOW: Search of vacant home in Burke County leads to warrant in missing person case)