OHP Focuses On Recovering Vehicles From Waterways

Wednesday, November 13th 2013, 5:46 pm
By: Dave Davis

The murky waters in Green Country could be hiding insurance fraud or maybe something worse.

Trained dive teams are helping the Highway Patrol recover more than dozen submerged vehicles.

Wreckers helped pull out the remains of a red pickup on Wednesday at the McClellan-Kerr waterway.

Troopers said there could be close to 20 more vehicles underwater.

When the remains of a pickup emerged from the water around 12:30 p.m., it marked the beginning of a huge undertaking. OHP said it could take weeks to pull out the others.

OHP's marine enforcement division started by finding the cars and trucks and used advanced side-scan sonar.

11/12/2013 Related Story: OHP Dive Teams To Recover Sunken Cars In Rogers County

"It creates a 3D-type image of the target that you're looking at underwater, so we can distinguish the difference between an SUV versus a truck versus a car under the water," OHP Capt. George Brown said.

Once they're found, the divers mark them with buoys and the brute force of a wrecker pulls them out.

Brown told News On 6 there wasn't a specific tip that led them to dive at McClellan-Kerr, but easy access to water means cars can be dumped there quickly.

"Those vehicles are there for a reason," Brown said. "Looking at the location, and how you would have to get a vehicle here, it looks like someone does that intentionally."

Once the vehicles are on shore, troopers will check them out, looking at the VIN and signs of possible foul play.

"Maybe these vehicles were used in a crime; maybe they were stolen; maybe it's an insurance loss," Brown said. "We just don't know that. We want to recover them so we can find out more."

It took about an hour and a half to pull out one car. OHP says if it gets more complicated, they may have to start attaching cranes to barges to pull some of them out.