State police say three people found dead Tuesday in a single-vehicle crash along a southbound ramp from Interstate 83 onto I-695 in Baltimore County had likely been there since early Sunday morning.

Police said the crash site wasn't discovered for two days because it was far from the roadway and hidden by trees and brush.

When a driver reported seeing something that looked like a vehicle in the woods Tuesday, police responded and found pieces of the car and the bodies of the three men. The discovery prompted an investigation that closed ramps at southbound I-83 onto the outer loop of the Beltway for more than six hours, from late afternoon into the evening.

The three men were identified as Vignesh Ashokan, 23, Sharath Sudershanam, 24, and Moka Mallikarjun, 25.

Police said the three were roommates who lived in Fairfax, Va., and had been visiting friends at a home in Cockeysville. They decided to head back to Fairfax about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, and the crash likely occurred shortly after that. Police said the car was on the ramp to the Beltway when, for unknown reasons, it went off the left side of the road, traveled about 300 feet and struck a tree, breaking into pieces.

While no one noticed the crash, friends of the men had reported them missing to authorities in Fairfax, police said.

The crash remains under investigation, and police said speed may have been a factor. The car, a 2012 Volvo S60, was owned by Mallikarjun, and police said the preliminary investigation indicates he was driving. The medical examiner's office in Baltimore was conducting autopsies Wednesday, police said. No results were available.

State Highway Administration officials said that during the police response Tuesday, the ramp was closed at 3:39 p.m. and reopened at 10:06 p.m. Traffic was backed up for about four miles during rush hour, SHA officials said.

jburris@baltsun.com