Vehicle drops into reservoir

Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. On the day before Thanksgiving, a 19-year-old driver headed out of Nederland, lost control of his vehicle, which he had owned for only two days, and went off the road above Barker Reservoir.

The car rolled, caught some air, did a 360, landed on its wheels and then rolled backward into the water. Before it became submerged, the driver managed to open his door and get out.

The vehicle sunk below the surface of the reservoir, settling on the murky bottom. The driver was treated for hypothermia. The Nederland Police Department and the Nederland Fire Protection District called for mutual aid from the Boulder Emergency Dive Team and the Longmont Dive Team for help in retrieving the submerged car.

It was a process that the dive teams have practiced often and although it seemed to take forever, the steps taken to ensure the safety of the divers are necessary. There are primary divers and backup divers and a whole team of emergency responders in place.

The first diver located the vehicle and marked the location. Then the ropes were hooked up to the tow truck parked on the highway and another diver joined the first one, the two men disappearing in a flutter of bubbles as they attached the cables to the frame of the vehicle.

After about 10 minutes, the divers surfaced and gave a thumbs up. Inch by inch, the cables muscled the vehicle to surface. It looked like an underwater creature as it slowly rose out of the muddy reservoir, gushing water from its interior.

Once out of the water, the car was pulled up the steep embankment and taken away.

Last year, a man crashed into the reservoir, going through the ice. He managed to get out of the vehicle but at that time he was so hypothermic that he was disoriented and hiked toward the opposite shore of the reservoir, where he probably saw the lights of houses. He was found deceased on the far shore the next day.


Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.