DINGWELLS MILLS – A man found dead behind the wheel of an overturned car buried in thick brush here early Thursday morning is believed to be Joey Francis Laybolt, RCMP confirmed to The Guardian.
Family members and police launched an exhaustive search for the 44-year-old Howe Point, P.E.I. man earlier this month.
Laybolt was last seen in Montague on June 2 driving a dark blue four-door Chrysler Sebring.
Thursday morning, a man on his way to work noticed what he thought was a bumper in thick brush at the corner of Highway 4 and Highway 2 in Dingwells Mills, about 15 kilometres west of Souris.
A walk into the woods discovered the overturned car on its roof.
Tragically, the man who found the car was a close friend of Laybolt’s.
RCMP Sgt. Kevin Baillie says when the friend discovered the dark blue Chrysler Sebring overturned on its roof in thick brush, about 100 meters from the highway he immediately called police.
The RCMP shutdown the highway to investigate the discovery.
“We weren’t initially able to see inside the vehicle because of the way it was upside down,” said Baillie.
“It wasn’t until the vehicle was rolled over that we were able to confirm that somebody was inside… There was one deceased male in the vehicle.”
Police were not able to do a positive identification on the man in the car.
An autopsy will be performed on Friday. Dental records will be needed to identify the man, however police believe the man is Laybolt.
The family has been notified.
Throughout the day, condolences poured in to online news sites expressing shock and sadness over the tragedy.
An inspection of the vehicle, which was not registered, will also be carried out in an effort to try to determine the cause of the accident.
The vehicle was badly damaged. Photos of the car show the front of the vehicle badly smashed, the roof bent in and the windshield shattered.
Baillie said the accident occurred at a T-intersection. He said there were absolutely no signs of an accident, no skid marks on the road nor any indications that the driver of the vehicle attempted to stop.
It is believed, police say, the car went airborne before coming to rest in the heavy brush.
Police have confirmed the Department of Transportation replaced the stop sign at the intersection on June 5.
A stop sign was found bent around the Chrysler Sebring when it was towed out of the brush Thursday morning.
“It appears that he had been there since at least June 5 or before,” said Baillie.
“I drove through that intersection twice (Thursday) going back and forth to Souris.”