Two families in Tennessee finally get closure twenty-one years after two teenagers went missing, thanks to a YouTube diver who plunged into a river and found the car they were last seen in.
Jeremy Sides runs the YouTube channel “Exploring with Nug.” His channel has over 85,000 subscribers and 11 million views. Videos show him exploring bodies of water in search of clues that can help solve cold cases. Sides uses sonar search technology, which is how he found Erin Foster’s car submerged on the bottom of the Calfkiller River in White County, near the town of Sparta.
Foster, 18, went missing with Jeremy Bechtel, 17, on April 3rd, 2000. The two disappeared, along with her car. The river had been searched before, but previous searches didn’t yield any clues. Sides found their case by searching databases that list missing person cases. He was drawn to this one because everything he had read led him to believe the two missing teens were somewhere in a body of water.
“It’s very hard to make a car vanish,” Sides said in an interview with 94.1FM, a local Tennessee radio station. “And the fact that they both went missing just one night and then they fell off the face of the planet and the car went missing, too, nine times out of ten they went in the water. And since Sparta has a river that runs right through the town, it seemed like a case that was definitely worth looking into.”
Sheriff Steve Page heard about Sides through members of Foster’s family. Page reached out to Sides and advised him to search in the Calfkiller River near Highway 84. Sides searched in that area and found Foster’s rusted Pontiac Grand Am submerged in the river on November 30.
Human remains were found in the vehicle and will be tested for DNA and comparisons with dentals records, if possible. The families of Foster and Bechtel were informed of Sides’ discovery.
“I’m lost for words,” Sides said in a video on his channel. “I’m so glad I could find them. I’m so sad that that’s where they ended up. I can’t believe – it’s been over 20 years that they’ve been sitting there waiting for someone to find them.”
Sides said he initially began this kind of work as a hobby, but it quickly turned into something bigger. He said he’s driven to want to help people, which makes this a satisfying career choice for him.
Sheriff Page said a crew will continue to search the river.
“We’re not sure yet that we have the correct teenagers, but we believe it is,” he told NBC News. He said it looked like they ended up in the water by accident, but an ongoing investigation should yield more information.
There were no guardrails on the road at that stretch of the river in 2000, but guardrails are up now.