PHOTOS: Teens escape from submerged pickup

Hartford and Hanover Fire divers stand on the submerged pickup truck

Rescuers from across Upper Valley respond

HARTFORD - Two teenagers rolled down a steep embankment in their pickup truck into the Ottauquechee River, escaped from the sinking vehicle, left the scene and didn't bother to report the incident until after rescue crews from Hartford, Lebanon and Hanover dove down to their fully submerged truck, traced the license plate and gave them a call.

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   The ghostly outlines of the silver Toyota Tacoma truck sitting on the river bottom facing towards the north bank were first spotted by a particularly sharp-eyed motorist just after 7 a.m. Sunday morning and arriving police officers were not able to tell just from looking at it whether anyone was still inside.

    That uncertainty led to swift water rescue and dive teams being called out from fire departments in both Vermont and New Hampshire.

The truck went off a steep embankment right at the scenic rope swing swimming hole

    "A mutual-aid recovery dive team came out.  They searched the vehicle, no one was inside, and they found the registration which we tracked back to the registered owner and we made contact with him up at his residence," Hartford Police Acting Sgt. Sean Fernandes said after the dripping truck was fished back up onto River Road by a Sabil & Sons wrecker crew.

    "We found the vehicle with the passenger side collapsed in.  It looks like it hit the rocks on its way over the bank.  All of the windows were smashed out of it except for the windshield," Fernandes said, adding, "It's still under investigation right now.  What we've got so far is a vehicle that was dumped into the river."

    The stretch of River Road that runs west from the Taftsville Covered Bridge begins in Woodstock then quickly crosses back into Hartford, Pomfret and then into Woodstock again.  Track marks at the scene indicated the pickup had been headed east up an incline when it left the dirt road right where there is a scenic rope swing at a popular swimming spot upriver from the Taftsville power dam.  

A Hanover Fire diver standing on the truck was still almost waist deep in the river

A cooler and a number of sports drink bottles floated to the surface when divers began searching the truck underwater

A diver looks for his gear in the back of his pickup truck

Hartford Police Chief Phil Kasten (center) confers with Major Brad Vail

Vermont News can be contacted at vermontnews802@gmail.com

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