St. Petersburg police ID body of man who drove into lake

ST. PETERSBURG -- St. Petersburg police have identified the body found in a lake as the owner of a vehicle that plunged into the water Monday night.

The body of 46-year-old Larry Nicholas was recovered from the lake Tuesday morning.

A 2010 black Jaguar with New York license plates was seen going into Harshaw Lake at 22nd Avenue N and 41st Street at 6:30 p.m. The vehicle was registered to Nicholas. Police said Nicholas lives in Tampa.

On Monday night, divers were able to locate the vehicle, which was towed from the water. There was no one inside of the vehicle.

Divers searched overnight in the murky water. They returned to the lake Tuesday morning.

Nicholas' body was found in approximately 10 feet of water and about 25 feet from the east shore line, not far from where his vehicle entered the water.

Police said Nicholas was visiting family members and had left their home on the 4200 block of Fifth Avenue North to pick up a pizza near 38th Avenue North and 49th Street.

When Nicholas did not return or respond to calls, family members drove out to look for him and discovered the police activity at the lake.

"The divers, as soon as they put into the water, they did locate the body of a man that is consistent with the description of Mr. Nicholas, the registered owner," said St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz. "At this point we're waiting on the medical examiner to come as well as traffic homicide investigators.

"They'll take up the investigation from this point on to determine the cause of death and circumstances surrounding the accident."

Police said it appears Nicholas' death was the result of an accident but the crash is under investigation.

"Whether he suffered a medical episode or something or whether it was the result of the accident or just possibly drowning -- these all the factors they've got to take a look at," said Puetz.

The cause of death will be determined by the Medical Examiner's Office.