DELAWARE, Ohio (AP) — A man who disappeared after a July Fourth party nine years ago was found dead in a car pulled from a pond this week, a sheriff's office said Wednesday.
The coroner's office in Franklin County confirmed the body found in the submerged car was that of Anthony "Tony" Luzio Jr., Delaware County sheriff's spokeswoman Tracy Whited said.
The 25-year-old Luzio disappeared on July 4, 2005, after leaving the party. His family's years of hoping, waiting and wondering ended Tuesday, when the car he'd driven was pulled from the central Ohio pond.
Luzio's father told The Columbus Dispatch the discovery was bittersweet. He said the family always had a bit of hope of finding Luzio but now can put him to rest.
"After 9 1/2 years to prepare for this, we thought we would be ready for the inevitable. But it hurts as bad as if it happened yesterday," said Anthony Luzio Sr., a retired Columbus police sergeant.
The pond was searched after police officers identified bodies of water big enough for a car to go into around where Luzio Jr. was last seen.
A search company that relies largely on donations found the car using a small boat equipped with sonar. It located the car within minutes of launching the boat.
A fire department diver then went into the water to confirm it was Luzio's car. Members of the dive team sent their condolences to the Luzio family and told WCMH-TV in Columbus they hoped the discovery of the car and Luzio's body would bring some closure.
The car was towed to the sheriff's office to be examined.