The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

January 3, 2014

City plow falls through ice at pond

OTTUMWA — It's not the best way to find a soft spot in the ice.

A City Parks Department snow plow was clearing off the "lighthouse island" lagoon Friday morning at Ottumwa Park. The idea was to plow a skating rink on the frozen pond.

Plow drivers said the ice covering the water was a half-foot thick. At least, for most of it.

"Over here, near the edge, it had been covered in snow, which insulated it, made it [weaker] than the rest of the ice," said Park Maintenance Supervisor Chris Cobler. "That's where he went through, and the plow got stuck ..."

At first, it was the front of the vehicle that was partially submerged. After a few minutes, the back end, which had been raised up, collapsed through the remaining ice. Now the front and rear wheels were partly underwater. The driver remained with the truck, which he kept running the whole time the heavy-duty Ford pickup was in the pond so he was able to keep warm, though he told his supervisor he had been concerned about ice water seeping through the door frame. That didn't happen, he said, even when about 15 minutes later, the truck dropped another few inches deeper. That's as deep as it goes, Cobler had determined.

Cobler had tried to pull the city parks truck out using his own vehicle, but that didn't work. Also, the embankment in front of the truck was one of the steepest in that lagoon. A very large tow truck tried to pull the plow out backwards via a gently sloped embankment. It wouldn't budge. By this time, the incident had drawn a crowd, some of whom made phone calls to family or media outlets, while others used their cell phones to take photos. The driver looked a bit uncomfortable being stuck and, perhaps, with all the attention, but he was uninjured.

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