Sumter deputies, divers recover sunken stolen pickup from 1989; vehicle not yet linked to any crimes


Saturday, June 1, was busy for Sumter County Sheriff’s Office after receiving a report of a vehicle submerged in water near Cain Mill Pond.

A fisherman contacted local authorities to report the vehicle. Deputies speculated that a missing person might have been connected to the vehicle and urgently responded to the site, according to Mark Bordeaux, public information officer for the sheriff’s office.

A team comprised of the sheriff’s office dive team and Public Safety Dive Team of Search and Rescue Detachment of Professional Services Command Brigade of South Carolina State Guard discussed recovery strategies and safety procedures in a briefing led by Capt. Jeffery Richardson of the local sheriff’s office.

An initial evaluation from divers indicated the vehicle was a small pickup truck whose front end was buried in the mud. The day-long effort to recover the pickup included divers attempting to dig it out of the mud, lift it with airbags, attach cables and attempt to pull it loose using a boat, Bordeaux said. After no luck in freeing the pickup, divers attached a cable from the pickup to a skid steer loader. With much effort the pickup finally loosened, allowing divers to pull it on land using a tow truck.

"Even though the vehicle was almost halfway buried in the sediment at the bottom of the pond, the operation was successful,” Richardson said. “Our divers partnered with the S.C. State Guard Dive Team during the recovery of the vehicle. Our groups worked together as one, and we definitely appreciate having excellent partnerships with other agencies like the S.C. State Guard."

Once on land, it was estimated the pickup had been in the water longer than 30 years. Investigators were able to identify the pickup as one reported stolen from Sumter in February 1989; the pickup has not been linked to any other crime, according to Bordeaux.

Sheriff Anthony Dennis thanked the State Guard’s Dive Team, Brigade Commander Col. Glenn Hamm and Detachment Executive Officer Capt. Michael D’Amelio for their efforts, as he said, “They traveled from different parts of the state and selflessly used their time, training and tools to support our deputies.”