By Greg Hunt
A ghostly-appearing grey-white car was barely visible in the middle of the Rum River near the Cambridge City Park on Monday morning, May 2.
A 3 1/2-hour team effort led by Dive team leader Nate Putbrese resulted in the car being dragged from the river around 1:30 p.m.
SGT Shawn Machin and the Cambridge Police Department received a stolen car report Monday morning; the vehicle was reported stolen from the 100 block of N. Birch in Cambridge Sunday afternoon. Shortly after 9 a.m. Monday, the SCI bridge construction crew called in to report a car in the river next to the 2nd Ave. bridge.
“We finally got it out, and it matches the stolen vehicle description. There’s nobody in it, so that’s always good,” said SGT Machin.
“I think everybody came together and worked in a coordinated effort to get this done. It really shows how well everybody works together–the Sheriff’s Office, the Cambridge Police Department, Safety & Rescue, Leaf’s Towing. Shows how we can use our resources together.”
After surveying the situation, Putbrese entered the frigid water in his air-lined dive suit, aided in the swift current by Safety & Rescue members KC Bohn and Bob Boone who were posted in the Sheriff Department’s Zodiak boat. The first hook-up attempt to the vehicle had the tow rope unfortunately slip its grip.
But after a short break, Putbrese made a second attempt, knocked out the car windows to get a more secure cable placement, and the car began sliding toward the west bank of the Rum. Once the vehicle was ashore, CPD Officers Machin, Todd Olson and Jenny Caulk made a further inspection, including popping the trunk with a pry bar.
“The biggest challenge we’ve had training for both the Safety & Rescue and the Dive team is the river because of the currents. And there’s so many variables with that, and there’s no visibility,” explained Isanti Co. Sheriff Russ Monson. “But Nate Putbrese here–we call him ‘Diver 1’–did a phenomenal job today getting everything hooked up. He hooked up the tow strap, he checked to make sure nobody was in the vehicle, all the necessary stuff. Safety & Rescue did a good job watching over him. The Zodiak boat was a great equipment purchase for our office.”
Sheriff Monson continued, “Our dive team has been training and assisting all over Minnesota. They’ve been up in the pits of Crosby doing recoveries of some stolen vehicles. There was a missing girl in the Zumbro River where they assisted in that recovery down there. We’re proud of these guys. So today was good training–no bodies down there, no injuries, so we’re all good there.”
Investigation into leads for the case continues, reported SGT Machin Tuesday morning, including trying to determine the motivation for the peculiar car-dumping behavior.