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Crews clean up the Kansas River, one car at a time

posted Jan 29, 2012, 5:22 PM by Ramandeep Dulku
Posted: Jan 26, 2012 6:47 PM CSTUpdated: Jan 26, 2012 6:54 PM CST
By Laura McCallister, Multimedia Producer 
By Stephen Mayer, Multimedia Journalist 

Thursday, crews from the Wyandotte County Sheriff's and Fire Departments along with a private towing service began pulling nearly a dozen cars and SUVs from the Kansas River.  

Using thick steel cables and a massive crane, crews got to work pulling 11 vehicles from the river.

"The river level's low and the weather's pretty decent. The sheriff felt it was time to cleanup these vehicles," said Lt. Kelli Bailiff with the Wyandotte County Sheriff's Department.

The area is known to be an eyesore when it comes to dumped cars, many of which are believed to be stolen so crews decided to put a major dent in the problem. Working as a team, dive teams with the fire department attached heavy duty cables to sunken cars, then crews with Independence Tow did the rest.

Next, sheriff's deputies stepped in as they began calling in license plate numbers in an effort to learn more about the vehicles. Eventually, the SUVs pulled out of the river will be taken to impound where detectives will search for any clues left behind.

"I have no idea what we will find. I hope there is some evidence –tools from crimes we're hoping to solve, some crimes from multiple agencies,"said Bailiff.

Bailiff said the best thing about this operation is it won't be an added expense to taxpayers.  Independence Tow is offering their services free of charge and the fire department is turning it into a learning experience.

"The fire department, that's apart of their job, but they're also using this as a training exercise in order to rescue vehicles out of the water. It's a dual purpose for all of them," she said.

Bailiff said Thursday's work will go a long way in cleaning up the Kansas River, but knows it may never be a done deal.

The area is so notorious for being a stolen car dumping ground that crews will be at it again Friday as they pull more cars from the river.

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