Truck pulled from Lake Winona

Borkowski Towing and Salvage and the Winona County Dive and Rescue Team pulled a mud-covered mid-1980s Ford F-150 from Lake Winona. How the vehicle ended up under 17 feet of water and who the owner of the vehicle was are currently under investigation by the the Winona County Sheriff's Department.

A small crowd gathered along the banks of east Lake Winona on Sunday morning as Borkowski Towing and Salvage pulled a mid-1980s Ford F-150 from the depths to the shore.

The Winona County Sheriff’s Department estimates the truck sat at the bottom of the lake for the past three decades.

According to Chief Deputy Jeff Mueller, a fisher picked up the sunken truck on a fish finder sonar while fishing about 100 yards from shore.

Interior of the truck

Mud filled the cabin of a mid-1980s Ford F-150 pulled from Lake Winona. The Winona County Sheriff's Department estimates the vehicle was submerged for 30 years before it was pulled from the depths by Borkowski Towing and Salvage this weekend.

Winona County rescue divers confirmed the location of the sunken vehicle about 17 feet below the surface a few days later.

According to Jared Biggerstaff of Borkowski Towing and Salvage, while recovering swamped vehicles isn’t uncommon, finding one that has been under for 30 years is a little unusual.

“Normally they aren’t down there for that long,” he said.

Removing a vehicle of this size requires a combination of specialized equipment and personnel.

Skid loader winch

In order to remove the truck from the lake, Borkowski Towing and Salvage utilized a specialized 30,000 pound winch mounted on a skid loader.

To pull the vehicle from the depths, Borkowski Towing utilized a 30,000-pound winch mounted to a skid loader.

Biggerstaff said this setup allowed recovery crews to get right up to the shoreline.

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While Borkowski Towing supplied the heavy equipment, Biggerstaff said it was the Winona County Dive and Rescue Team that ran the winch line out to the vehicle.

“They have to do all the rigging,” he said. “We applaud them.”

Biggerstaff said he was shocked by the condition of the vehicle. Even after 30 years beneath Lake Winona’s waters, the vehicle, dirty as it was, didn’t have a spot of rust on it.

“I was in shock of how good a condition it was in,” he said. “I thought it would have been roughed up after 30 years.”

Pulling the truck from the water

Borkowski Towing and Salvage recovers a mid-1980s Ford F-150 from Lake Winona early Sunday morning.

Exactly how the vehicle ended up at the bottom of the lake and who it belonged to remains under investigation.

The vehicle’s location has led some to speculate that the vehicle may have fallen through the ice.

Mueller said the truck had a Wisconsin plate from 1990, however, the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles was unable to connect the plate to the owner.

Law enforcement has been able to recover the vehicle’s VIN number and are attempting to use the unique vehicle identifier to find the original owner of the vehicle.

The discovery of the truck comes just less than a year after the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Department pulled a sunken 1980s Chevrolet Suburban from the Mississippi River. The Suburban was discovered last July after multiple agencies received reports of a large object located about 50 yards off the shore in the area of Ninth Street in Buffalo City.

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Tobias Mann covers crime and government in Winona County. He can be reached at 507-453-3522 or at tobias.mann@winonadailynews.com


(1) comment


Send it to New Orleans - they have lots of practice cleaning them up and selling them after the hurricanes.

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