Gardaí have today discovered skeletal remains in the car that was found off Hugh Coveney Pier in Crosshaven on Wednesday evening.
The submerged car was discovered by divers on May 26 and Gardaí were notified. The scene was preserved as the Garda Water Unit conducted a search operation and were able to extract the car from the water on Thursday night.
The car is currently being technically examined and has been confirmed as a red Toyota, 98-C-18625 - that of local man Barry Coughlan, who has been missing for 17 years.
Barry Coughlan, a fisherman from Crosshaven, was last seen outside the Moonduster Bar in the harbour town at 1.30 am on May 1, 2004. He was 23 years old.
Gardaí discovered the skeletal remains during the technical examination of the car today.
A Garda spokesperson said remains will now be transferred to Cork City Morgue where an examination will be carried out. The local Coroner has also been notified.
It is hoped results of the examination, and DNA analysis by Forensic Science Ireland, will assist in confirming the identity of the remains.
Gardaí have said the results of DNA analysis can take time.
The vehicle was discovered in the river bed on Wednesday, when the Cork City Missing Persons Search and Recovery unit were conducting a routine trial of a new sidescan sonar unit known as a 'StarFish'.
When the scanner identified a possible item in the Owenabue river, divers from the unit investigated further and discovered the vehicle.
Gardaí were called to the scene on Wednesday evening and yesterday the Garda Sub Aqua team arrived to begin a detailed search of the area.
Mr Coughlan had started a job as a fisherman in Castletownbere a short time before he disappeared and had come home for the weekend.
When he disappeared, the family hoped he would turn up in Castletownbere for work. He had been due back on Sunday afternoon, May 2 — a day after his last sighting.
But he didn’t, and his car had not been seen since his disappearance either, despite exhaustive searches by his family, friends and gardaí.
His family have issued regular appeals for information since his disappearance. They said his disappearance was completely out of character for him and was totally unexpected, as nothing about him suggested that he was thinking of leaving and he did not appear to have any troubles.