A nationwide search for four young adults ended with the recovery of bodies from a car in a river, but questions remain whether the accident was a deadly combination of illegal drinking, missing safety barriers and a misdirected detour sign.

A car containing what authorities believed were the bodies of the four young people was found Thursday in 15 feet of water in the murky Mill River near New Haven harbor.Authorities were awaiting autopsy results to make positive identifications, but city police Lt. James Sorrentino said it was likely the four victims were the missing friends, who graduated together from East Lyme High School in 1987.

The three women and one man were last seen by their parents about 7 p.m. Saturday, when they left their hometown of East Lyme for a night in New Haven.

The four were Jill Sawyer, 19, a student at the University of Rhode Island; Christy Stevens, 19, a student at Mohegan Community College in Norwich; Michael Gallo, 20, a student at Southern Connecticut State University; and Laura Lagrotteria, 19.

"They were good kids. I can't picture them being drunk and driving," said Michelle Funaioli, a student at Southern Connecticut. "It's horrible."