Forum News Service, Published April 29 2013
Sheriff: Crookston man drove into the Red River north of Grand ForksGRAND FORKS - A Crookston, Minn., man reportedly drunk and looking to go “swamp diving” drove his Chevy pickup down a boat landing into the flooding Red River early Sunday morning, said Grand Forks County Sheriff Bob Rost. Jeremy Holzer got out just before or after his truck hit the water and divers rescued the truck within 90 minutes, Rost said.
Holzer, 22, is expected to be charged with reckless driving, but had not been charged yet Monday afternoon, Rost said.
According to the report from Cpl. Tom Inocencio of the sheriff’s department, about 1:30 a.m. Sunday a North Dakota Highway Patrol trooper driving up Mill Road in Grand Forks noticed a vehicle turn east on 27th Avenue North toward the boat landing on the Red. Since the landing is closed because of flood conditions, the trooper followed to check things out.
He found several vehicles near the landing and a 2002 gray Silverado pickup in the water. The trooper called Grand Forks police who sent officers, while Inocencio, a member of the sheriff’s department Water Operations Team, also responded to the radio traffic.
Holzer was nearby on dry land at the boat landing, “extremely intoxicated,” according to Inocencio. One of the witnesses from other vehicles at the scene reported Holzer said, “I wanna go swamp diving” and drove down the ramp into the river.
The pickup was about 30 feet from landing, mostly submerged in the rising river, when the trooper arrived.
Three divers from the water operations team decided to quickly recover the truck because the river’s rising was making such actions more dangerous by the hour.
From 1 a.m. to about 7 a.m. Sunday, the river rose about a foot, from about 36 feet to about 37 feet at the downtown East Grand Forks gauge, according to the National Weather Service.
By 3 a.m. Sunday the divers had attached chains to the truck and pulled it out. No one was injured.
The truck “was in drive and the keys were in the ignition,” Rost said.
It’s possible for the sheriff’s department to seek restitution from Holzer for the cost of the recovery operation, Rost said.
Holzer pleaded guilty to drunk driving, a misdemeanor in state district court in Fargo last June and received a suspended sentence of 30 days in jail and paid $625 in fees and fines. He was cited in February for having an open container of alcohol in Traill County, pleaded guilty and paid a $50 fine, according to state court records.
Rost emphasized that the boat landings in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks remain closed for safety reasons during the flood season.