Published January 08, 2010, 12:20 PM

Alexandria ice divers will retrieve partially submerged pickup from Lake Reno

What does it take to lift a Ford F-150 pickup truck out of 21 feet of icy water?

By: Celeste Beam, Alexandria Echo Press

What does it take to lift a Ford F-150 pickup truck out of 21 feet of icy water?

Time, perseverance, heavy-duty equipment and patience, according to Jeff Bosek, owner of Divers Clubhouse in Alexandria.

Last week, Bosek, along with a crew of helpers, lifted a 2006 Ford F-150 pickup truck out of Lake Reno, south of Alexandria, after it broke through the ice on the north side of the lake.

Fortunately, the truck is the only thing that went all the way through the ice – the fish house still hitched to the pickup remained on the surface.

Bosek also rescued a 1988 three-quarter-ton Chevy pickup with a snowplow on the front that partially went through the ice. The front broke through and the water was up to the front headlights, said Bosek.

Both trucks were on Lake Reno and both incidents occurred on December 29 – within hours of each other.

According to Bosek, a certified diver since 1988, the trucks fell in along a crack on Lake Reno that had formed from the weight of the new fallen snow.

The task of removing the trucks began around 9 a.m. December 30 and by 6 p.m., both vehicles were back on solid ground.

Bosek explained that the biggest problem with the first truck, the Ford F-150, was that he had to figure out a way to disconnect the fish house from the vehicle.

He said the truck fell through the ice, the hitch hook-up bent and would not come apart.

“It was a slow process to take it all apart underwater so we could pull them out separately,” Bosek said.

He explained that once the two components were separated, the process went a little smoother.

To recover vehicles from the depths of a lake, Bosek uses an H Bar lifting system with portable winches that mount to the ice. In the case of the trucks on Lake Reno, Bosek said he used two of his biggest winches – a 16,500-pound winch and a 9,000-pound winch.

He also owns and uses on occasion an 8,000-pound winch and a 6,000-pound winch. In addition, he uses chainsaws, ice diving equipment, lift bags and battery amps.

The H Bar lifting device is pretty heavy-duty and a very safe system, said Bosek. He added that by using this type of system, he doesn’t run the risk of dropping another vehicle through the ice.

“We are also very careful not to do any more damage to the vehicles in case they want to salvage them out,” said Bosek.

In the case of the Ford truck and the fish house, he said that BK Towing from Glenwood brought both of them back to a heated shed to dry out.

If a vehicle falls through the ice, Bosek said that if it is taken out of the lake and dried out before seven days, there’s a good chance it will still work and the electrical system won’t be damaged.

In a typical year, Bosek recovers on average one to two vehicles, three snowmobiles, three or four fish houses and maybe a four-wheeler or two that have fallen through ice.

Most of his recoveries are within a two-hour radius from his home.

After years of recovering such items as rings, snowmobiles, guns, ATVs, fish houses, vehicles, helicopters and much more, Bosek said, “I’ve realized that no two recoveries are the same. It takes a lot of equipment and a can-do attitude.”

For more information about Bosek and his diving business, visit his website at www.diversclubhouse.com.

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