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An SUV with a body inside was found submerged in a Texas lake during a search for a missing Houston mother, cops said.
Erica Hernandez, a 40-year-old mom of three, disappeared on April 17 after leaving a friend’s home in southwest Houston. The police department’s dive team recovered a vehicle matching the same make, model and license plate of her black GMC Acadia in a man-made lake in Pearland, cops told reporters Tuesday.
“Our condolences go out to the family as they go through a painful time of waiting for a positive identification on one individual that was found inside the vehicle,” Houston Police Commander Kevin Deese said.
The identity of the person found inside will be confirmed by the Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office, authorities said. Deese declined to say whether the victim is a man or woman.
Evidence shows that Hernandez’s SUV struck a curb before entering the body of water in Pearland that reaches depths of 15 feet, Deese said. He did not indicate whether investigators believe foul play is involved.
The search for Hernandez, which involved FBI investigators, led cops to the lake in a subdivision. Deese said the vehicle appeared to have been there for an “extended period of time” — likely when Hernandez went missing.
“We won’t definitively say that the search for Erica Hernandez is over because there is a process that still needs to be followed,” Deese told reporters.
Hernandez’s family said it’s unclear why her car was at the location, KHOU reported.
“We found her car, but we still need to keep going,” sister Ashley Hernandez told the station. “There’s no reason for her to be over here. I think somebody had to have made her go in this direction for whatever reason.”
Hernandez’s youngest child, a 3-year-old boy, still believes he’ll be reunited with his mother, Ashley said.
“I mean, he was still asking for her just a few days ago,” she told the station. “Is she coming back? When is she coming? [His grandmother] just tells him, ‘She’ll be back later.’”
Hernandez worked at Community Health Choice, where she verified insurance benefits, the Houston Chronicle reported.
She’s the type of mother who would do anything for us,” Hernandez’s 14-year-old daughter, Briza Armenta, told the newspaper.
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