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February 2009    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 35, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Did This Diver Fake His Own Death?

from the February, 2009 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

For 11 hours on September 11, 2008, helicopters, boats and divers from four agencies searched the waters of Laguna Beach unsuccessfully for John Sung Park, 29, who went diving with friends but never surfaced. It was believed he perished underwater. But now investigators have announced that the native of Buena Park, CA, was spotted in Los Angeles, and they believe he faked his own death to avoid three arrest warrants and a sentencing.

Police from Laguna Beach and Newport Beach, along with the Coast Guard and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, began searching for Park when his two dive buddies said they never saw him exit the water. When his body wasn’t found, it was thought he had been trapped in one of Laguna Beach’s underwater caves. Nearly $50,000 in resources was spent looking for him.

But before he disappeared, Park had two arrest warrants issued against him. One was an Orange County case where he pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance, receiving stolen property, forgery and second-degree burglary. He was expected for sentencing in that case on September 15, four days before he disappeared in the depths. The day before his dive, he sold his Mercedes and two weeks later, he allegedly showed up in L.A. at the home of the woman who bought the car, demanding it back. During the altercation, he swiped the car and ran down another woman as he fled. A $95,000 warrant for his arrest has been issued. Keep an eye out for a black Mercedes with license-plate number 5ZUA733.

This reminds us of a case we reported nearly two decades ago when a diver faked his death off Florida, only to be found years later working as an instructor in the Maldives.

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