A car that a month ago crashed through the ice into Ross Lake near the Hazeltons gets hauled out by divers called in from Port Edward. (B.C. Ministry of Environment photo)

Floating a car out of Ross Lake

Divers salvaged a car that went through the ice near Hazelton last month

The saying is supposed to be whatever floats your boat, not your car.

Valard Dive Services was called out from Port Edward to recover a car that fell through the ice into Ross Lake on March 29. It was left there until last Friday.

“For the salvage recovery operations, we had to wait until the ice was off the lake,” explained Ministry of Environment emergency response officer Jason Bosscher, who was on the scene to monitor the recovery along with park rangers.

“Initially, the environmental emergencies program, we assessed the situation, determined there was limited to no environmental impact to the lake, so there was no immediate rush to get the car out of the lake.”

There was no evidence of gas and other fluids coming out after the initial dip into the lake, when about one litre of the 20 litres of gas in the car escaped, according to Bosscher.

So last Friday, after a lengthy search in very silty water with low visibility, divers attached four 500-kilogram air bags to pop the car out. The cost of recovery is polluter pay, which in this case may be ICBC.

The man waiting to see if his ice fishing gear was still in the car did not wish to be identified, but he told his unfortunate story. He said it went in around 7 p.m.

“March 27, my wife, grandfather-in-law and I were out fishing here … and we were drilling holes in the ice to go ice fishing. We noticed that the depth was still over a foot-and-a-half,” he explained.

Ice charts say that should be enough thickness to support a car.

“So we thought we had plenty of ice. And then my wife and I decided because it was the second to last day before the fishing license date changed over, we were going to go out one last time,” he said.

“We started going out and everything was just fine until all of a sudden, I saw the colour change in the ice. I went to slow down but i didn’t slow down fast enough. The front passenger side wheel punched through the top layer of ice and water started coming up.”

He, his wife and his pet dog got out quickly. Turned out there was no rush.

It was not until while a tow truck was trying to recover the car and a rusty chain snapped that the car took its plunge.

More spill response information can be found on Twitter @SpillsInfoBC, though the account will be more active after the provincial election.

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