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Deputies identify body found in car submerged in Branch Co. lake but questions still remain

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COLDWATER, Mich. — Tika Barnes has so many questions regarding the death of her friend Jonathan McGuire. She was told that he drove his convertible into Cary Lake early Monday morning with another guy in the front seat. But she wondered, like most people, who the passenger was inside.

“Things are fishy,” said Barnes during an interview at Cary Lake. “We don’t know what’s going on. We want to know who he was with ‘cause he didn’t hang out with a lot of people. But certain people he did and just the time period is a little weird.”

Branch County Undersheriff Keith Eichler said that morning a man and woman came to their station. The man said nonchalantly to him  'I need to report an accident'  and didn’t give further details. Later, through additional conversations with another deputy, he revealed that a car drove off Cary Lake Drive, hit a dock and flipped over into the water.

“I’m thinking I mean ‘How fast could you have been going? I mean, did you hit a deer?'” said Eichler recalling the conversation. “I didn’t ask, so to speak, you know, thinking that it’s something just minor because just of his nature.”

The man, who’s identity is being concealed during the investigation, said that he was the passenger in the crash and was able to get out OK. The driver Jonathan McGuire did not. He was still trapped inside the car, submerged underwater. Immediately Branch County deputies and the Michigan State Police dive team were dispatched to the site.

“When they got down and found the vehicle and marked where the vehicle was at, they went back down to the vehicle and they located someone in the vehicle, of course deceased,” said Eichler. “They brought them out and put them up on shore.”

Eichler said they recovered the body and the two-seater car around 11 o’clock that morning. It was about 30 yards away from the shoreline and 20 feet underwater. However, according to the man who reported it, the crash happened around 1 a.m.

“The strange or the twist part of this whole story is that you know this incident happened sometime in the early morning,” said Eichler. “And then to come back in 6 or 7 hours later to report it, you know it doesn’t sit well.”

Eichler said he also didn't show up to the station 'soaking wet by any means.' Investigators think he must've gone home and changed clothes. They've been questioning him about the crash ever since.

“We believe that they were at one of the local establishments here in town and that's where they met up,” said Eichler about McGuire and the man. “Not really sure as to what all the activities went on from after that or what they were going to do.”

Eichler also believes the two were not friends. An autopsy and toxicology report has been completed. The results should return in 6-8 weeks.

“I just hope they find what happened to him,” said Barnes. “It’s just out of the ordinary how things happened.”

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