LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. – A diver who was reported missing in September is believed to still be alive after trying to fake his own death in a bid to escape mounting legal problems, police said Tuesday.
John Sung Park, who would be 29 if he is still alive, was reported missing Sept. 11 by two fellow divers who told police they became separated off Laguna Beach. About an hour after swimming to shore they called authorities, who conducted an extensive search.
Police spokesman Sgt. Jason Kravetz said the divers' story didn't quite add up and officers grew suspicious, particularly after no trace of Park emerged from the ocean.
"Usually fins wash up or some sort of evidence floats to the surface," Kravetz said. It had not been determined if the two divers colluded in Park's disappearance.
The day before he disappeared, Park sold his 1994 Mercedes to a Tarzana family, Kravetz said. On Sept. 24, he allegedly returned to the family's home and took the car back, probably by using a spare key.
A young woman attempted to stop the car from being driven away by standing in the way. Police said Park deliberately crashed into her and she sustained injuries that required hospital treatment.
"They identified him, they knew who he was," Kravetz said. "That's how we knew he was probably still alive."
A warrant for Park's arrest has been issued in that case.
Park had been due in court Sept. 15 for a sentencing hearing on burglary, theft, forgery and drug charges, police said.
He was also wanted on a warrant for drugs charges in Los Angeles County.
Park formerly had addresses in Buena Park and Long Beach, police said.