BELMAR, NJ — A body found inside the dark-colored minivan taxi pulled from Silver Lake on October 22 has been preliminarily identified as missing driver Wayne Kovacs of Toms River, according to the Toms River Police Department.

Kovacs, a driver with Citi Cab of Neptune, was initially reported missing after he was dispatched for a fare on September 23 that was scheduled to travel from Asbury Park to Seaside Heights, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. It was not known whether he made it to that destination, and there was no contact with him since that time.

On October 7, Kovacs' disappearance was reported to the Toms River Police Department, which launched a missing person investigation.

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After identifying an area where Kovacs, 55, was believed to be, Toms River Detectives Tom Grosse and John Turner came to Belmar on October 22 and approached Silver Lake, where they noticed a small amount of oil in the lake, the police said in a press release.

During a search of the lake by the New Jersey State Police Missing Persons Unit and the New Jersey State Police Marine Unit, the vehicle that Kovacs was allegedly driving was located using side-scanning sonar equipment, the release said.

The minivan, with a Citi Cab top-light on its roof, was then pulled from the Fifth Avenue side of the lake at about 5:15 p.m. by the state police TEAMS (Technical Emergency and Mission Specialists) Unit. 

Investigators are awaiting a medical examiner’s report to confirm Kovacs’ identity, as well as to determine a cause and manner of death. At this time, there appears to be nothing suspicious, and the investigation is ongoing at this time, the release said.

Belmar Police Department, New Jersey State Police, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Middlesex County Medical Examiner’s Office assisted in the investigation, police said.

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