MADISON COUNTY, Ill. – It’s about as stuck as stuck can be: a couple of guys testing out a new four-wheel drive Chevy drove over a frozen pond and ended up stuck in sand, ice, and mud on Chouteau Island, just north of Interstate 270 in Madison County, Illinois.
Things got even worse.
“When the lake goes dry in the winter, there’s a lot of temptation for guys to think they can just come out here and go four-wheeling,” said Austin Opp of the Chain of Rocks Recreation Corp.
The group owns the property and uses it for water skiing practice.
“This is the worst I’ve ever seen out here. Nobody’s usually dumb enough to try to go out on the lake and he did,” Opp said.
The truck’s owner told Fox2/News 11 a friend was driving just before sunrise on New Year’s Day; they thought the frozen pond was a frozen field.
“It’s permafrost,” Opp said. “It was frozen hard enough that it held him up for a while then it just collapsed in, which what I’d expect him to do.”
The owner yelled from the passenger seat for his friend to turn back, he said. They were nearly off of the pond when the ice started giving way. The truck’s owner then rented a backhoe to try to fish out his truck. As he got close, an unseen pocket of ice, sand, and mud gave way and down went the backhoe, he said.
Both vehicles remained frozen stuck some two to three feet deep in a spot that will be six to seven feet underwater come spring.
The property owners want the vehicles out of there but said that was not their biggest concern. Illegal four-wheeling was an ongoing problem with 13 vehicles impounded in a single day a few years ago.
“We’re more afraid the accident where a rollover and little kid gets killed or a girl is with her boyfriend. This is not a public place to go four-wheeling. With the lack of people out here in the winter, it’s tough,” Opp said.
The men could be cited for trespassing by the City of Madison, Illinois, but their biggest concern was getting the vehicles out.
Given what had happened no one was willing to try to tow them as of early Wednesday night.