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DAVIE (CBSMiami) – Police in Davie are working to figure out why the driver of a car plunged into a canal in their town.

It’s not clear how long the vehicle — a white, 4-door Lexus — was in the water before an alert passerby saw the car this morning and called 911. And for one family this tragedy brought back all too painful memories…

CLICK HERE To Watch Carey Codd’s Report 

Chuck Kraus saw the car in the water as he drove west along Griffin Road and called 911.

“When I realized that it had been in there for a while there was no reason to jump into action, play hero,” Kraus told reporters.

As divers descended into the water a Davie Police officer stood watch — rifle at the ready — for alligators. The divers confirmed that there was one person in the car then helped tow truck crews pull the vehicle from the water.

“Any instance like this, it’s definitely a tragedy,” said Sgt. Ed Smith. “It’s a tragic accident and that’s why our traffic homicide investigators will do everything that they can to determine exactly what happened and give the family closure.”

Davie Police has confirmed that the victim’s name is Carlos Chaz Mena, who was just three days away from his 51st birthday.

Two friends of Mena’s said that he works for Lexus and used to be a South Florida police officer sometime in the early 90’s. They say Mena was with them on New Year’s Eve at a house party.

Friend Jose Rivero said Mena leaves behind an 8-year-old daughter.

“She loves him to death,” said Rivero. “It’s really hard.”

Donnalee Layer knows all too well what the family of Thursday’s victim is feeling. Her 19 year old daughter Lindsay died in the same canal in 2005 when the car she was riding in plunged into the water. Donna Lee said Lindsay’s seatbelt didn’t release.

“You’d think they’d put up more guardrail,” Layer told reporters Thursday.

She said Lindsay’s friends fought for more guardrails and safety measures in this area and some guardrail did go up she says. However, she believes officials were more concerned with landscaping than with saving lives.

“I don’t understand,” she said. “I just don’t understand.”

Lindsay’s family was critical of the investigation performed by Davie Police and they said they were glad to see so many police officers on scene Thursday investigating this accident.

Davie Police said Mena was last seen around 2:30 am on Thursday and they are asking if anyone saw the crash or has additional information to contact the Davie Police Department at 954 693-8200

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Carey Codd

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