Remains found in former mayor’s submerged car a year after he vanished, Oregon cops say

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Remains were found inside a car that had been submerged 40 feet deep in an Oregon river, a sheriff’s office said.

The car belonged to missing Ralph Brown, a former mayor of Cornelius, on May 13 in the Willamette River near a boat ramp in Rogers Landing County Park in Newberg, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said.

Brown’s car was discovered nearly one year after he vanished May 16, 2021, deputies said. He called his kids and told them he was lost before he disappeared, according to a Facebook page created to find Brown.

Brown, who was 76 when he vanished, had early-onset dementia, according to the page.

Ralph Brown’s car was found around 10:30 a.m. on May 13, 2022, in the Willamette River in Newberg, Oregon. He has been missing since May 16, 2021.
Ralph Brown’s car was found around 10:30 a.m. on May 13, 2022, in the Willamette River in Newberg, Oregon. He has been missing since May 16, 2021.

Although the remains have not been identified by the medical examiner, his friends and family believe it’s him.

A search and recovery dive team called Adventures with Purpose located Brown’s vehicle around 10:30 a.m., the rescue team wrote on Facebook.

The 2014 blue Nissan Sentra was upside down in the river, and the windows were rolled up, the group said.

A diver on the team pulled the vehicle’s license plate and deputies confirmed it was Brown’s car.

Deputies and the dive team then recovered Brown’s car with human remains inside from the river, deputies said.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ralph’s family during this difficult time,” the dive team said on Facebook. “Hug the ones you love for you never know when it might be the last time you see them.”

The investigation is ongoing.

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