Divers work to recover sunken snowcat 16 months after deadly accident

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- In February of 2019, two men died after their snowcat fell through the ice at Island Lake on the Grand Mesa. Now there’s an effort to pull that snowcat out of the water, 16 months after the incident.

“We not only have to lift a 15,000 pound snowcat, but we have to break it off the bottom. We have 1,500 pound lift bags, we need 10 of those to lift this thing,” said Dive Commander Jared Leisek.

The divers, made up of volunteers from Oregon, Washington, Utah and Colorado are using inflatable air bags to lift the snowcat out off the bottom of Island Lake, almost 80 feet under water.

“The riggings on the snowcat are at 80 feet, those lines come up another 30 feet, and that’s where we are hooking the bags to lift at 50 feet to keep us safe,” Leisek said.

“Right now its ropes and its going to be boats and hands, and maybe a truck to tow it,” said District Ranger Bill Edwards.

But it’s been tough going the past few days. On June 16th, we’re told the lines attached to the snowcat broke, pushing the operation another day.

On the 17th, the snowcat floated close to the surface, but the airbags had a slow leak, and it sank back down.

Jared says he and his team volunteered to do this dive after he heard about the situation.

This way, there’s no cost to any public or government agency, and he gets content for his Youtube channel, Adventures With Purpose.

“For a while, the Navy was in talks about doing some training up here.

We get a lot of cold cases, and missing person case calls as well,” Leisek said.

But for Delta County Sheriff Mark Taylor, there’s nothing really left to investigate…just closure.

“It’s just one of those unfortunate accidents, that if someone had a do-over it probably wouldn’t have happened, but it was pure accident,” Sheriff Taylor said.

As of June 17th, its unknown if the crew was able to get the snowcat out of the lake.

To read the original story about this incident, go here: https://www.nbc11news.com/content/news/505341301.html

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