Officials who responded to a 911 call reporting a car was driven into Loeb Lake in St. Paul's Marydale Park say the BMW sedan they recovered was reported stolen minutes before it was ditched -- and it's not the only vehicle found in the weedy waters.
At about 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office Water Patrol responded to a witness report filed at 6:10 a.m. to inform police that a car was already in the water and that two people were getting out and fleeing the area.
St. Paul police and fire officials responded, launching a small boat to search for the vehicle. When they were unsuccessful due to the weeds, they called in the water patrol to use a remote-controlled underwater camera with sonar to search the lake.
Officials say the sonar quickly found a vehicle buried in the silt, but the camera images showed the car was older than the one reported. Soon after, the sonar found a second vehicle nearby that matched the description given by witnesses.
Search and rescue divers were called to help extract the car, but when a deputy dove to attach a lead line he found a third car that was next to the BMW.
Once the cables were attached to the BMW, a tow truck pulled it from the water with a winch.
No bodies were found inside, but officers on the scene confirmed the car had been reported stolen at 5:47 a.m. just a short distance from the park.
According to St. Paul police, a woman watched two young men steal her car from the 400 block of Edmund Avenue just minutes before witnesses saw it on the walking path before hearing a splash and watching the culprits run away.
"It's a joy ride," Randy Gustafson, of the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, said. "People will steal a car for a joy ride and run it into the lake so they can't be traced as quickly."
Officials say a plan to recover the other two vehicles found in Loeb Lake will be made over the coming days.
Neighbors told FOX 9 News that before it became a city park in the mid 1970s, Marydale was a neighborhood dump for 50 years. So, it is possible that divers seeking the other submerged cars will barely be scratching the surface of what's under the water.