MOSS BLUFF, LA (KPLC) - Waterways are a common dumping ground for vehicles that are stolen or involved in insurance fraud.
On Thursday, divers with the Marine Division of the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office attempted to recover vehicles from the bottom of the Calcasieu River.
Pulling up cars from a river bottom is all in a day's work for the Marine Division.
"It's just like the patrol officers," said Sgt. Ron Johnson. "They go on the roadways to make sure the roadways are safe. We go on the waterways to make sure the waterways are safe."
The dive team, with two divers from the Lake Charles Police Department, Kyle Young and George Miller, worked to recover submerged vehicles from the Calcasieu River. An investigation was done prior to Thursday morning's first dive so the divers knew exactly where they'd be going.
"We always do investigation by running sonar," Johnson said. "We located some objects underwater that appeared to be vehicles. We shot the first two targets. We put divers on them. They turned out to be boats."
Sonar uses sound waves to see objects underwater. After confirming two targets as boats, they moved to location number two, where Goos Ferry Road dead ends in Moss Bluff. Here, Johnson said they knew their target was a vehicle.
"Vehicles are highly important because there's missing people all over the United States, and you never know," said Johnson. "One of these vehicles could belong to someone who's missing."
Divers place floatation devices in and around the submerged vehicle, then inflate them to float the vehicle. It's then pulled to shore before being towed away.
"As far as we know, someone could be in the vehicle," Johnson said. "They may not be in the vehicle. It could be stolen. It could be someone trying to file a false insurance claim. There could be numerous reasons why it's here, and we need to investigate to determine what factors are involved."
The divers on Thursday recovered a 1994 GMC Safari Van. They ran the license plate but found no owner and no reports of it being stolen.
"It's part of a criminal investigation," said Johnson. "Any time someone puts a vehicle in the water, there's pollutants in the vehicle: Leads, oil, gasoline. All these things break down in our water tables which kill our fish, which end up in drinking water, things that aren't beneficial for our society."
The divers plan to go back out at a later date to recover another vehicle in the same area as the van.