Man found dead 2 days after crashing car into canal in Melbourne Village

Rescue officials went into the culvert and surrounding areas of water to look for him but were unable to locate him

Lights atop a police cruiser flash at the scene of a crime in this undated file image.
Lights atop a police cruiser flash at the scene of a crime in this undated file image. (KPRC/File)

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – An Indian Harbour Beach man was found dead Thursday morning after he drove into a canal in Melbourne Village Tuesday, police said.

Gerald Nicholson, 31, was seen speeding through a stop sign at the intersection of Dayton Boulevard and South Drive about 4:50 p.m. Tuesday in Melbourne Village, police said. The car, which police said belonged to his girlfriend, traveled over the embankment and plummeted into the canal below, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

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A woman who saw the crash and reported it to the Melbourne Village Police Department tried to help, police said.

She spoke with Nicholson, who she said was taking paperwork and other items from his car. He walked through waist-deep water from his car to the culvert, back and forth several times.

When police arrived, Nicholson had gone through the culvert, which is about 10 to 15 feet tall, police said.

Rescue officials went into the culvert and surrounding areas of water to look for him but were unable to locate him.

Rescue workers pulled the car from the water and contacted Nicholson’s girlfriend, who provided his name and a photo. Both Melbourne Village and West Melbourne police looked for him that evening and the following day.

Thursday, a friend of Nicholson’s girlfriend was walking along the canal and found Nicholson’s body in the water about 746 feet from where his car dropped into the canal, police said.

After police notified Nicholson’s family of his death, his girlfriend told police he had called her about a half-hour before the crash Tuesday and said he had been in an accident and needed to “get out of here.”

Police said they don’t know where the accident occurred, but they believe he could have been involved in a hit-and-run.

“It’s pretty normal for people to come to The Village and run through the woods and get away,” said Officer Kip Scarlett with the Melbourne Village Police Department. “It’s like a maze in here.”

Police have taken statements from Nicholson’s family members and are conducting a death investigation. An autopsy is scheduled Monday.