Person Found Dead in SUV Buried in Mud

Homicide detectives were investigating the death of a person whose remains were found in an SUV buried in six feet of mud in Southern California, a likely victim of the recent storm and resulting mudslide, officials said.

The man was identified by the LA County Coroner as Robert Rasmussen, 49, of Palmdale.

The vehicle was found about 12:50 p.m. in the 41800 block of Karen Drive in Palmdale, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Firefighters arrived about 10 minutes later and a crew began digging the vehicle out, a fire department inspector said.

"As they began to dig further down, they discovered what appeared to be a human hand protruding from the vehicle," said Lt. Victor Lewandowski.

The black vehicle was found tilted sideways in a retention basin. The area was hard hit last week by storms that caused mud and debris flows and flooding.

Several residents in the area said they told firefighters in person on Thursday about the SUV in the mud and made calls throughout the weekend to report it.

Stacey Horwood, who lives in the area, said she alerted authorities multiple times. She said firefighters stuck a 6-foot pole into the mud, but did not find anything.

Horwood said she thought the truck was about 10-feet deep in mud at the time.

"We've been standing there looking at it saying, 'somebody's in there,'" she said. "That's somebody's life. They drowned to death. They're underneath that ground and nobody took them out."

Horwood said she tried to tell authorities someone was in the car "multiple" times.

Lorin Zide posted to NBC4's Facebook page about the incident as well.

"I hope someone reads this," she wrote. "I live here and the day the Van went over the side there also was a MOTORCYCLE that also went down in that drainage as ....I don't know why they stopped looking the day it rained....all of us that live here told rescue workers that there was vehicle in there ..."

Palmdale City manager James Purtee and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said no one reported the driver missing, and conditions made it difficult to search the area.

"Obviously if we had known there was a missing person, this would have been absolute top priority for Public Works, Fire and the Sheriff's," Purtee said.

Rosa Ordaz contributed to this report.

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