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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Florida man found dead inside car in Lake Santa Fe

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of a Melrose, Florida, man after finding him and his car submerged in Lake Santa Fe on Wednesday morning.

At about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, ACSO divers found Joel Costantino, 68, in the lake after receiving a call from a passerby who reported seeing the top of his 5-door red Toyota Scion in the water, said Lt. Brandon Kutner, a spokesman for ACSO.

The car was registered to Costantino, Kutner said. At this time, it is unknown if foul play was involved.

Members of ACSO’s Marine Operations and Underwater Recovery Team were some of the first to respond to the Trout Street boat ramp in Melrose, he said.

Melrose, an unincorporated community of about 6,500 people, is located about 18 miles east of Gainesville.

Detectives with ACSO’s Criminal Investigations Division and Forensics Unit are investigating the death, Kutner said. They are currently speaking with neighbors and relatives.

Costantino’s body has been turned over to the District Eight Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy, Kutner said. Costantino’s family has been notified.

“We’re at this time trying to investigate the circumstances that led to the vehicle entering the water,” he said.

The investigation is in its early stages, and ACSO will release more information when it is able, according to a post on its Facebook page.

As of press time, the post has been shared more than 100 times.

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