Man's body found inside car in Lee County golf course pond

Published: Sunday, December 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 30, 2002 at 10:39 p.m.
FORT MYERS - A Fort Myers man found dead inside a car in a Lee County golf course water hazard was likely the victim of a hit-and-run accident, investigators said.
An autopsy will determine if Louis Etienne, 64, died from injuries sustained in the crash or drowned, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
Divers with the Sheriff's Office found Etienne's body Friday in nine feet of water in a pond on the Gulf Harbour Golf and Country Club, more than 13 hours after the car plunged into it.
Investigators believe Etienne was involved in a hit-and-run crash reported about 10:45 p.m. Thursday.
Sheriff's deputies saw the damaged aluminum fence separating the road and the golf course when they investigated the hit-and-run crash. But it was too dark and the deputies missed spotting the car, highway patrol Sgt. Dan Hinton said.
A security guard called deputies back to the scene Friday morning when he saw damage to the golf course. Divers and equipment went to the course around noon Friday, when an FHP helicopter spotted an oil slick in the pond.
Etienne's car was traveling at a high rate of speed Thursday night when it was hit, Hinton said, adding that Etienne's car was likely hit by an SUV because of the damage.
It jumped the median, went through some bushes, and smashed through the fence separating the golf course from the road.
The blue sedan then crashed through a tree, crossed a cement path and hit another tree and a small boulder before plunging into the water hazard on the golf course, Hinton said.
Some residents heard the crash. Ellie Winn, 47, who lives next to the pond, said she expected to hear sirens after the crash but didn't.
"It's too bad," she said. "If one of us had been out here, maybe we could've gotten the police out here looking for him."

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