By Paul Garrod
COLUMBIA TWP. – Van Buren Sheriff Daniel Abbott reported that on Nov. 12, approximately 2:12 p.m., Van Buren County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the 49000 block of 24th Avenue on Lower Jeptha Lake for a call about a tractor/excavator in the lake. The vacation property is owned by an Illinois family. When they are not visiting their property, they have neighbors periodically check on it, according to Sheriff Abbott.
On Nov. 12, a neighbor arrived on scene and immediately noticed damage to the property and an excavator in the lake. Police were called for assistance. Upon the deputies’ arrival, they noticed several things damaged in addition to the heavy machinery in the lake. The Van Buren County Dive Team and Mike’s Towing, Bangor, were called to assist in the recovery of the excavator. Dive team members and the tow service recovered the excavator without incident.
Once the piece of equipment was removed from the lake, deputies investigated how/why the excavator ended up in the lake. Deputies found that the gas pedal had been forced down with a brick and it was purposely driven into the lake.
At this time, there are no suspects linked to the vandalism. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office is seeking assistance from the public to help in the investigation. “If anyone saw or has any information in reference to this case, please reach out to the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office,” said Sheriff Abbott.