(Above) Personnel from Lake Towing, of Clear Lake, loaded a vehicle Monday which was found submerged in the lake in the vicinity of 16th Avenue South. An investigation is underway to determine the vehicle’s owner. The vehicle was empty.-Reporter photo by Chris Barragy,
by Marianne Gasaway
Recovery of a vehicle which has likely been submerged in Clear Lake for decades was the focus of considerable attention Monday morning near the 16th Avenue South public access and boat ramp.
According to Iowa Department of Natural Resources Officer Matt Washburn, a fisherman caught sight of a large object on the lake bottom while using sonar equipment. He notified law enforcement, who arranged for the Clear Lake Fire Department to send its underwater drone to the site in an attempt to look for a license plate. Due to zebra mussels heavily covering the vehicle, the equipment was unable to spot any identifiable information.
Divers were sent down Saturday to take a closer look and in approximately nine-feet of water they located the vehicle and were able to pull the rear license plate. Authorities said the plate was issued in 1986 and was a 10-year plate. That date, combined with the zebra mussel covering, means the vehicle was likely underwater for several years.
Okoboji Underwater Recovery Specialists brought the vehicle to the surface Monday morning.
A small crowd was on hand to watch the vehicle be loaded on a trailer by Lake Towing, of Clear Lake, for transport to the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Office.
Its recovery raised speculation that a body may be found inside, however a press release issued by the Sheriff’s Office stated the vehicle was unoccupied with all windows closed and doors locked.
Officials are working to identify the last known owner of the vehicle.
“At this time there is no reason to believe that this recovered vehicle is linked to any foul play or any ongoing investigations being conducted in our area,” stated Sheriff Kevin Pals.