ISLE OF WIGHT, Va. -- Virginia State Police troopers started a recovery mission on Wednesday to recover three abandoned vehicles in the Blackwater River near a boat launch off Joyner’s Bridge Road.
"This is the perfect site to get rid of cars,” Sgt. Mike Berry, an operations coordinator with the VSP, said. “So to us, this got us excited when we saw it was in the middle of nowhere.
Sgt. Berry was in charge of the operation as he made calls out to the team of scuba divers searching the water. He and the troopers traversed a spot just south of the bridge where the vehicles were detected through sonar before Wednesday, in near proximity of each other.
"We came here earlier on another mission, probably about a month ago and while we were here working that mission we noticed the environment,” Berry explained. “We noticed the bridge, we noticed the boat ramp and we said this is kind of out of the way, let's come back one day."
News 3 joined the search crew on the water. Berry said the depth of the river is 20 feet. Among the three cars they found included a Porsche and a pick-up truck.
"We already have one marked over here. It's the pickup truck,” Berry said as he pointed to the spot where it was found. "That one's a little sensitive because there could be someone or a lot of things in there."
The sergeant said vehicles can be dumped in rivers for several reasons -- because it was stolen, insurance fraud, or even a murder or suicide. He said waterways are favored spots for criminals trying to dispose of evidence.
“It’s just a safe place for someone in their mind, they thinking they're going to get rid of a car off this bridge or a gun, or something they don’t want people to know,” Berry said. “They don’t know there’s people like us that proactively search these places for criminal evidence.”
The divers went down with inflatable bags that are tethered to the boats that will help pull the vehicles.
"Each team is going to grab a lift bag, they're going to go down and rig it,” Berry explained. “They're coming up and I'm going to lift it with these air houses down here."
The divers re-positioned the vehicles while in the water to smoothly to take it back to shore. A tow truck was waiting and pulled the cars out of the water.
Police then looked for details such as VIN numbers and other details to help investigate why the cars were dumped.
"Once all that's done and the divers are comfortable,” Berry said, “and they're warm again, we're going to go back for the next car."
The investigators only pulled up two vehicles out of the three. They ended their search for the day and Berry said they would return next week and pull out the third vehicle.
Investigators were quickly able to determine that it was stolen. No human remains were found inside the vehicles.
VSP was also assisted with the help of local sheriff's offices and police departments.