Chainsaws, scuba gear required to pull sunken truck out of North Okanagan lake

VERNON - The removal of a sunken truck from Swan Lake created quite the spectacle today in the North Okanagan.

Crews spent hours chainsawing through the ice and sending divers into the water just off Highway 97 north of Vernon at Swan Lake, Jan. 10, while curious onlookers watched nearby, huddled around a fire and passing around beers. 

The truck plunged through the ice sometime in the past few days, and Kandis Lipsett, with the Ministry of Environment, says it’s important to get it out of the lake.

“Vehicle fluids such as anti-freeze or oils may release,” she says.

The vehicle owner was not present at the scene today, but Lipsett says he was fishing when the ice broke.

“I have mixed reports,” she says. "I heard from the driver that he was in the truck and then he got out. Then people here are saying that he was ice fishing while his truck broke through the ice and then it took some time for it to actually sink the entire truck."

She says the chances of fuel contamination are quite slim, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The driver will be stuck with the full costs of removing the truck, which are in the thousands Lipsett says.

The situation will likely be covered by insurance. Last year when a truck broke through the ice, ICBC said the incident would be covered, as long as the owner had comprehensive coverage.

Crews from Ram Environmental were hired by the owner to retrieve the sunken vehicle, a task that required scuba divers to hook lines onto the bumper. By 2:30 p.m., after several hours of work, crews managed to pull the front end of the truck out of the water with the help of a tow truck before the line suddenly snapped, forcing a diver to get back in the water and re-secure the line.

According to Lipsett, the plan is to get the vehicle onto a ramp and then tow it away.

“Hopefully (it) will come out smoothly,” she says. “They’re the professionals, leave it to them.”

A scuba diver plunges into Swan Lake to recover a sunken truck Jan. 10, 2017.
A scuba diver plunges into Swan Lake to recover a sunken truck Jan. 10, 2017.

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