CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A firefighter responding to an accident Monday on I-485 spotted the wreckage of a car hidden in a wooded ravine 75 yards off the road. Inside was a body believed to be that of a Charlotte-area deejay missing since May.
Authorities are waiting for the medical examiner to positively identify the body Max Espinoza, 36, who was last seen around 1 a.m. May 6 leaving a house party he was deejaying in south Charlotte.
On Monday, the N.C. Highway Patrol received a call around 9:24 a.m. about an accident on I-485 near the I-77 split. A driver had clipped the guardrail and his vehicle had turned onto its side. The male driver was not injured, said authorities.
From the accident scene, a Charlotte firefighter noticed a car lying on its roof down a heavily wooded embankment, police said.
“It had been sitting there for some time,” said Sgt. Jamie Moore with the Highway Patrol.
At the time of his disappearance, police said Espinoza sent two text messages to friends around 2 a.m. that indicated he was headed home. He never arrived and was later reported missing.
On Monday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police spokesman Robert Fey said the N.C. tag number on the white Volvo found in the ravine was AFT-5382, which matched the tag on the car owned by Espinoza.
Espinoza owned a white 2006 Volvo S60.
“We have no reason to believe it’s anyone but him, but we can’t confirm that until the medical examiner positively identifies him,” said Fey.
Police said the car was about 20 feet down and 75 yards from the roadway. The embankment is a gradual decline.
“Thank God (Monday’s) accident actually happened because there’s no telling how much longer we would have gone without finding this vehicle in the woods,” said Fey.