It took the Great Bend Police Department, the Great Bend Fire Department and a towing service an hour and a half Thursday morning to fish a stolen red, four-door Dodge Ram 1500 pickup out of Veterans Memorial Lake. The activity drew a large crowd of spectators.
According to the GBPD, the 2002 truck had been reported stolen at noon Saturday from 1908 Cherry Lane in Great Bend by its owner Nelson Adams Jr. It was taken some time between 2-11:30 a.m. Saturday.
A tip called into the department indicated the truck was in the lake near the boat ramp at the southwest corner.
However, the murky water, clouded with plumes of blue-green algae, made the search difficult. The toxicity of the water also prevented fire department divers from going into the lake.
Fortunately, officers spotted an oil slick near the footbridge. Firefighters began probing the water from the bridge with a long wooden pike, capped with a steel point/hook and located the missing vehicle.
Apparently, officers said, the truck was dumped into the lake at the ramp but floated out a ways. It eventually sank with its front grill facing the bridge.
This made the retrieval difficult.
At about 10:30 a.m., the pole was used to shatter the windshield so a hook could be inserted into the interior. At the other end of that cable was the tow truck backed up to the shore line.
After one failed attempt, they were able to set the hook and start pulling it on its side to shore. The operator was eventually able to reach the truck and attach the hook to the undercarriage.
Following some maneuvering, they flipped it onto its wheels with a splash, and dragged it onto the ramp at about noon. Water poured out of soaking, muddy, damaged truck.
After the truck was out of the lake, hazardous material handling company HazMat Inc. of Great Bend was called to the scene to remove the oil and gasoline that had leaked from it.
As for the investigation, it remains on-going, officers said.