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Car takes a dive

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

The afternoon of Friday, Oct. 26, myriad area first responders converged at City Park to help rescue a vehicle and its erstwhile driver from the drink.
At approximately 2:30 pm, a call to emergency dispatch indicated there was an incident in progress at Bandera City Park. A short while later, the report was amended to "a car was in the Medina River at the park." At that time, law enforcement officers with the Bandera Marshal's Office and Bandera County Sheriff's Office; EMS medical personnel; Kenneth Schieber, owner of Cowboy Country Towing; and Fire Chief Max Konz of the Bandera Volunteer Fire Department arrived to assist.
According to City Marshal Charlie Hicks, while attempting to back out of a parking spot along the riverbank, a motorist's foot had slipped, causing his 2004 blue Kia to roll nose first into the river.
"Once the car hit the water, the man was able to get out of the vehicle without injury," Hicks said. "He was wet, but he wasn't hurt."
Hicks added that an undisclosed illness had prevented the man from applying the brake before his car slid into the water. By the time first responders made the scene, the thoroughly chagrined man was resting against the trunk of a Cypress tree, watching the scene unfold in front of him.
After Schieber arrived, Konz, a certified diver, was dispatched to retrieve his diving mask and swim trunks. His job would be to hook the tow bar under the front portion of the vehicle. Luckily, river currents had turned the car 180º, making the attachment and subsequent vehicle removal slightly easier.
Additionally, after reaching the vehicle, Konz had to return to the bank to get the car keys from the owner to put the vehicle into neutral to facilitate the operation. Commenting from the river, he said, "I'm glad this didn't happen in January."
The towing was further complicated because of the extra weight of the water that had seeped inside the nearly totally submerged vehicle. Once the operation began, marshals and deputies warned gawkers by now lining the riverbanks to step back, fearing the cable would snap due to the extra weight.
In fact, after reaching the bank, but before being hauled onto the back of the tow truck, the vehicle was allowed to drip for five minutes in a near perpendicular position. The driver had asked that the car's doors be kept shut to prevent his personal property from floating down river.
According to Schieber, the submersion had totaled the Kia. "The electronics were fried and there's now water in the engine," he said.
BCSO deputies gave the car's owa lift ner home. "My patrol vehicle was filled with firearms," Hicks said, "so county officers hauled him home." No charges were filed.
For Konz's part, the rescue seemed eerily similar to a recent television commercial he had filmed for Toyota Tundra. In the spot, Konz - in a Tundra, natch - tows a submerged truck, built by a competitor, from the drink. "Nice truck," said the owner of the waterlogged pickup.
Glancing over his shoulder, Konz replied, "Nice boat."
When apprised of the similarities last week, Konz said, "Yeah, but in the commercial, I was the one on the land."