The apparent theft and sinking of the truck owned by Coastal Auto Recovery was discovered Wednesday morning as people launched a fishing boat down the ramp. As the boat slid off its trailer, it hit a large object under water. When the fishermen realized the object was a submerged tow truck, they called for help.
The Ocean City Fire Department received the call at 9:53 a.m., spokesman Steve Price said. Four members of the department’s dive team donned flippers, scuba tanks and bright red wetsuits as they dove into the water to see if anyone was trapped inside.
The dive team scoured the waters in and around the marina on Sunset Avenue but found no bodies inside the truck or in the area surrounding it.
“We still don’t know how it got there,” Price said.
That job is being left to the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the incident that left the truck sitting in about eight feet of water at the end of the ramp. The truck was pointing into the water as if it had been driven down the ramp. All four wheels had gone off the concrete ramp, but the tail of the truck was still resting on the concrete.
According to Sgt. Bobby Brittingham of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, the tow truck had been reported stolen at 12:30 a.m. the previous night. It had been parked in front of the owner’s home on Lake Street in West Ocean City, not far from the marina. Police have no suspects.
Cropper and Sons Towing assisted with the salvage, sending one of the company’s large tow trucks to retrieve the submerged truck. The divers attached a hook to the sunken vehicle and it was slowly pulled up onto land.
Water gushed out of the truck for minutes on end, but it did not appear to have suffered substantial damage. Brittingham said the keys were still in the ignition.
The fire department laid small, absorbent white sheets along the surface of the water to absorb fuel and other liquids leaking from the truck.