Tasmania divers that discovered Dale Nicholson remains find number plates at bottom of river

Astonishing moment hero diving team that found remains of missing man at bottom of the river pull number plates out of the water as search continues for another father

  • Divers found number plates at bottom of river
  • Search continues for missing man Nicola Sallese
  • Team found remains of Dale Nicholson on Monday 

Footage has emerged of divers finding number plates in a river in the search for a missing father – a year before they discovered the remains of another man.

The divers had been looking for the body of Nicola ‘Nick’ Sallese, 69, as they searched the Huon River near Franklin, in Tasmania, in April 2022.

Mr Sallese disappeared with his silver Toyota Camry in November 17, 2008, prompting his family to hire the Downunder Divers team to search for his body.

They the same cold-case specialists that discovered the remains of Dale Nicholson, 61, in a submerged car in the River Derwent on Monday – six years after he disappeared from New Norfolk, north of Hobart, on December 10, 2016.

Footage from their previous expedition in the Huon River has since resurfaced showing Mr Sallese’s son Jason recording the tense search for his father.

Footage has emerged of divers finding number plates in a river in search for a missing father - a year before they discovered the remains of another man

Footage has emerged of divers finding number plates in a river in search for a missing father – a year before they discovered the remains of another man

The divers had been looking for the remains of Nicola 'Nick' Sallese, 69, as they searched the Huon River near Franklin, in Tasmania, in April 2022

The divers had been looking for the remains of Nicola ‘Nick’ Sallese, 69, as they searched the Huon River near Franklin, in Tasmania, in April 2022

The family had been using sonar technology to locate cars beneath the surface of the water, believing their father and his vehicle could have been swept away. 

Dan, who is one of the divers, is seen surfacing from the bottom of the river holding an old licence plate in his hand.

‘We had marked this spot on our maps weeks before as a very high possibility of finding a vehicle because of the road being right beside the river with no barriers at all,’ Jason wrote in a Facebook post.

‘When we sonar-scanned the area, a car became visible straight away. So it was time for Dan to dive to see what we had found.

‘It felt like a lifetime. Dan was diving on the location of the car, he was only underwater for a few minutes and I held my breath the whole time, you can actually hear me finally take a breath at the 46-second mark of the video.’

Dan pulls his oxygen mask out of his mouth and shakes his head in disappointment as he holds the number plate.

‘Ah sorry, it’s not dad’s car mate,’ he said. 

‘It’s a [Subaru] Liberty. The driver’s window is down, no one in there that I can see. Sorry mate.’

Jason wrote that he would continue searching for his father having crossed off that part of the river. 

Dale Nicholson, 61, vanished on December 10, 2016 after speaking to a friend on the phone in the afternoon

Dale Nicholson, 61, vanished on December 10, 2016 after speaking to a friend on the phone in the afternoon

Downunder Divers, a team that specialises in closing cold cases, found Mr Nicholson's Ford Falcon sedan submerged in the River Derwent (pictured) on Monday

Downunder Divers, a team that specialises in closing cold cases, found Mr Nicholson’s Ford Falcon sedan submerged in the River Derwent (pictured) on Monday

The search for his missing father has continued since the video was taken last year with the most recent expedition held at South Esk River at Longford two weeks ago.

A Ford Laser with no number plates was found with the family maintaining hope they will find their father after the chance discovery of Mr Nicholson. 

Mr Nicholson, 61, vanished from New Norfolk, north of Hobart, on December 10, 2016 after speaking to a friend on the phone in the afternoon.

His family reported him missing the next day however despite an extensive search by Tasmania Police, he was never found.

Downunder Divers, which specialises in closing cold cases, announced via YouTube on Monday they had found Mr Nicholson and his car.

The team found his Ford Falcon sedan submerged in the River Derwent next to a car park used for the busy New Norfolk swimming pool.

Police said the car and remains were retrieved on Sunday night but there has yet to be a formal identification of the body.

Mr Nicholson's Ford Falcon sedan was found submerged in the River Derwent next to a car park used for the busy New Norfolk swimming pool

Mr Nicholson’s Ford Falcon sedan was found submerged in the River Derwent next to a car park used for the busy New Norfolk swimming pool 

Officers removed a number of bollards – installed after Mr Nicholson went missing – to retrieve the car. 

In the YouTube Live video to announce their discovery, Downunder Divers said they were happy to ‘bring closure to the family’.

‘It’s a sense of relief … [for them] that we found him. They know where he is,’ diver  Bill McIntosh said.

‘The amazing thing is the family has been walking this path. They’ve walked this path 1,000 times. Everyone in town walks by this location, and you just never know.’

Mr McIntosh said the car was found wedged behind a large pine tree, which kept it from being washed down the river. 

‘The windows were open and it was pretty clear that he’d been sitting right there for … years behind that large pine tree,’ he said.

‘It was what was protecting it for the past years … it made it so that no debris coming down the river could affect the car.’

Mr Nicholson and his Ford Falcon (pictured) were found in the River Derwent six years after going missing

Mr Nicholson and his Ford Falcon (pictured) were found in the River Derwent six years after going missing 

Downunder Divers, who retrieved the car and body, said they were happy to 'bring closure to the family'

Downunder Divers, who retrieved the car and body, said they were happy to ‘bring closure to the family’

A 2021 coroner’s report found ‘all available evidence’ pointed to Mr Nicholson being dead but was unable to make further findings.

Mr Nicholson’s sister Leanne Marshall told the ABC she was shocked her brother was found so close to home.

‘Finally closure for us to be able to lay Dale to rest and not have to wonder and keep thinking where is he,’ she said.

‘It was such a shock, he was found so close to home… he only lived around the corner.’ 

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