AUSTIN (KXAN) — Divers with Austin Police found a man’s body around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday morning after an SUV went into Lake Austin. Austin Police say the driver drove off a boat ramp near the Pennybacker Bridge.
Emergency dispatchers got the call from a witness Tuesday evening around 10:58 p.m. The witness told dispatchers that a vehicle went into the water with one person inside and that the person was flailing around it.
The Austin Fire Department says the first rescue team arrived three minutes after the initial 911 call. Rescue swimmers suited up and headed toward the water where they could see the headlights of the SUV. The SUV was submerged in 12 feet of water, but the visibility is down to six inches.
Additional rescue teams were called in. At one point, six divers with AFD were helping with this rescue that included 10 units and 28 firefighters.
Divers swam toward the vehicle, looked inside and around it and were unable to find anyone. Thirty minutes after arriving, AFD changed its operations.
“Due to water conditions that we have in Texas, we have a standard half-hour search window before we transition into recovery mode,” Captain Andre De la Reza with the Austin Fire Department said. “Given the six inches of visibility, and that they [divers] are not on air, they are only going down holding their breath in full exposure suits, it gives them a limited time to submerge themselves in a safe manner.”
Crews also searched the shoreline on either side of Lake Austin. Divers with air tanks are now part of the recovery operation. APD launched its boat, which has sonar capabilities. STAR Flight and Austin-Travis County EMS crews also assisted with the call.
“Ideally what we are doing here is looking for that quick instinct, quick on scene and trying to rescue, grab someone, pull them out, and deliver them to EMS as a viable patient. Tonight we were not able to achieve that,” De la Reza said.