Response to submerged vehicle proof of good training, equipment

Published 4:00 pm Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Early Friday, the Vicksburg Police Department responded to a call of a disturbance at the Vicksburg Riverfront. What followed was a detailed and professional response, from not only the Vicksburg Police Department, but from multiple city and county agencies and one of the largest tow trucks in the region.

When officers responded, they found a man standing over a woman who had reportedly been the victim of an assault. A third individual, sitting in a nearby vehicle, fled the scene. What that individual failed to do was put the car in park. As a result, the car slowly rolled into the Yazoo Diversion Canal and slipped beneath the water.

The incident happened in the dark, in the early morning hours.

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After a quick interrogation of the assault victim and the suspect, officials felt comfortable there was no one else in the vehicle that had since slipped out of sight.

Since there was no one reportedly trapped, officials decided there was no need to risk the safety of divers in water that was already at or below 50 degrees and dive in zero visibility at night.

At noon, work to recover the vehicle began. The Warren County Sheriff’s Office was on hand with their boat and sonar searching for the car, while divers with the Vicksburg Fire Department were staged and ready.

To those who might not have realized the capabilities of our first responders, seeing divers staged and sonar at work was impressive. To those who knew of such capabilities, the work was no less impressive.

After a series of sweeps by the boat, divers were put in the water. After nearly an hour of driving, the car was still not found.

After another sonar sweep, another spot was found.

Divers were again put in the water.

This time, in about 40 feet of water, about 20 yards from the riverfront boat launch, the car was found. Divers connected a cable and the car was pulled out, putting an end to a disturbance call nearly 14 hours in the making.

It is still not clear whether those involved in the assault will be ordered to pay for the response of multiple agencies and departments, but what was clear on that day, and every day they are in service, is the way our community’s first responders go about their jobs.

These men and women who spent hours at the riverfront pulling a car that was senselessly left to create a navigation hazard did so with a calm resolve and tremendous patience. They responded and worked as a team and in the process did the work safely and successfully.

Vicksburg and Warren County are blessed to be perched on the banks of the Mississippi River. But the location does create its challenges, along with its opportunities.

The equipment and training our fire department’s dive teams are provided is time and money well spent. Same with the equipment and training provided the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.

Thankfully Friday’s events were nothing more than the recovery of a car, but it proved that when needed — if needed — our first responders have the training, the equipment and resolve to save and protect both life and property.