Dale NICHOLSON - TRAGICALLY LOCATED
Divers find body in car submerged in River Derwent, north of Hobart, in search
for cold case missing man Dale Nicholson
Smith and Daniel
Posted January 2023
A team of divers that specialises in solving cold case disappearances has found
a body in a submerged car owned by a Tasmanian man who has been missing for more
than six years.
Police confirmed human remains were found in a car at New Norfolk, north of
Hobart, that belongs to Dale Nicholson.
The 61-year-old was last seen alive by a neighbour on December 10, 2016, and
spoke to a friend on the phone that afternoon.
His family reported him as missing the following day, and despite an "extensive
search", no trace was found at the time.
A coroner's report in 2021 found "all available evidence" pointed to him being
dead but was unable to make further findings.
The coroner found Mr Nicholson had a "history of alcohol and drug use" and was
being treated for depression at the time of his death.
The Ford Falcon sedan belonging to Mr Nicholson was found by independent divers
who announced the find in a YouTube Live video this morning.
It was submerged in the River Derwent near a car park for the local swimming
Police said the car and remains were retrieved last night but formal
identification of the body is yet to occur.
'He only lived around the corner'
Mr Nicholson is survived by his three sisters. His mother died shortly after his
One of his sisters, Leanne Marshall, said it was shocking to realise that he was
sitting for years in a place 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."
She thanked the divers, who rely on donations and "survive on that to do what
'We have found Dale'
The divers are affiliated with YouTube channel Downunder Dan Diving, which helps
families of missing people by searching waterways.
"We have found Dale Nicholson. He was last seen going to get breakfast with his
fishing rods and we found him yesterday at 4:11pm in the afternoon," diver Bill
"We're glad we're able to bring closure to the family. It's a sense of relief …
[for them] that we found him. They know where he is.
"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."
"The Tasmanian police came in and they spared no expense," fellow diver and
owner of the YouTube channel, "Diver Dan", said.
"They worked so professionally, they listened to us, they took our advice, and
it was an absolute joy to work with these ladies and gentlemen.
"Within five-and-a-half hours, the entire scene was cleaned up and the car was
Newly installed bollards masked car's location
The divers, who were also in the process of looking for Nicola
Sallese, another missing Tasmanian man, said they searched the river near a
mental health hospital in the area, focusing on boat ramps and other access
points to the river.
They found a site that had bollards blocking access to the river but discovered
that six years ago when Mr Nicholson went missing the bollards had yet to be
They said police removed several of the bollards in order to retrieve the car
Mr McIntosh said they found Mr Nicholson's car in the lee of a large tree that
helped prevent it from being washed down the river over the years.
"We were able to confirm
that not only it was the vehicle we were looking for, but also that Dale was
in the vehicle still," Mr McIntosh said.
"The windows were open and it was pretty clear that he'd been sitting right
there for … years behind that large pine tree.
"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."
Community feeling 'terrible sadness'
Derwent Valley mayor Michelle Dracoulis said the community had mixed emotions
about the discovery.
"There will be some relief that we've got some answers now but of course
terrible sadness to know that a member of our community has been with us this
whole time and we haven't been aware of it," she said.
"This [place] is accessed by families every weekend and by people of all ages
who walk their dogs, people swim in this space, people fish in this space.
"This is a space that I've
come down to with my own children and we've thrown a [fishing] line in, so
you would have no idea that that was sitting so close to us all."
"[It has] definitely impacted a lot of people in a lot of ways."
The mayor said the family had the support of the community.
"I'm really pleased that we can give him some dignity now, recognise that he's
been found and he can be laid to rest in a way that's appropriate by his family.
"I'd just like his family to know that they're in the thoughts of everyone in
the valley. It's a journey … they're not alone."
New Norfolk resident Shane Tassell said Mr Nicholson's friends had over the
years been doing their own searching further up the river.
"This is my number two fishing spot and he was here the whole time, it's just
incredible and it's good closure for the family," he said.
"It was a bit of a shock to us all last night, emergency services blocked the
area off we knew something was up.
"[It's] such a relief, we thought something really nasty might have happened
here last night but then speaking to the blokes this morning that did the search
and found him it was just an amazing effort on their part.
"Amazing technology, the sonar equipment … a big difference to the sonar
equipment on my boat."