False alarm: Sunken vehicle not connected with Ethington

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By Lisa King

A possible lead in the missing Maxine Ethington case has turned out to be false, according to Shelbyville Police.

When a sunken vehicle was discovered in the Ohio River in Milton, Ky. in Trimble County, divers were sent down to investigate on Wednesday, according to Shelby County Police detective Bruce Gentry.

"The only reason they found it is because they knew there was something down there impeding the boats from getting into the water, and they used one of those little depth-finder things and they got a good outline of what it was and they sent a diver down there because they felt it was a car," he said.

Since Ethington, an 87-year-old woman with dementia, went missing from her Shelbyville home in a silver Buick on May 25, police felt it could be her vehicle.

Gentry said a professional dive team from Louisville was called in to investigate. But the water was too murky for the divers to see much, so they pulled off a piece of the car's interior and brought it to the surface to examine it.

"It was maroon, and the interior of Ms. Ethington's car was gray," Gentry said.

Trimble County Sheriff Tim Coons said he was present when the divers went down in 14 feet of water just off a boat dock to check out the situation.

Coons said divers came back up and brought a piece of the bumper and it was encrusted with a type of barnacle called Zebra Shells, which meant the vehicle had been on the river bottom for a long time.

"We're not talking months, we're talking years," Coons said.

He added that when the vehicle was first spotted with sonar, his immediate reaction was to get a search underway for a body, because not only has Ethington been missing, but also a man from Spencer County.

In light of the fact that divers have ascertained that the vehicle has been underwater for such a long time and because raising it would break into many pieces, causing even more debris to be strewn on the riverbottom, the decision was made to leave it alone.

Coons said that though the situation proved to be a false lead, he is still hopeful that Ethington will be found.

"We still have her posters up here and are still trying to pay attention to that," he said.

"Whenever you go for an extended period of time and can't find your target vehicle, you always think about water because it's out of sight. We were anticipating solving it, and disappointed that it didn't happen that way."

Pull Quote:

"We were anticipating solving it, and disappointed that it didn't happen that way."

Trimble County Sheriff Tim Coons