TAYLORVILLE, Ill. (WAND) – Park officials were surprised to discover a car in a pond at Manners Park in Taylorville on Friday morning. The car had apparently been submerged in the pond since 1988.
Officials say an old drainage pipe in the area was broken, and the pond needed to be drained in order to fix the pipe. However, they never expected they would find a 1977 Buick Regal Coupe while doing so.
It does not appear anyone was inside the vehicle.
Taylorville Police Detective Rob Thomason said he initially thought the call was a joke.
"I thought the sergeant was joking," Thomason said. "So I walked downstairs, and Dispatch told me, no, they called. There's a car in the pond."
Police then called the Taylorville Fire Department, who came in with their dive team.
"We could obviously tell (the car) had been there for an extended period of time," Assistant Fire Chief Andy Goodall said.
The car had not been seen since being reported missing by its owner in 1988. Police were able to locate the owner, who still lives in the area, and told him they had found his missing car 31 years later.
"I believe he was surprised, although he indicated he didn't want the car back," Thomason said, laughing. "In 1988, this individual and his friend had been out. They left the car somewhere a block away from our police department, with the keys on the hood, and (came) back the next morning to get the car, and the car was gone."
Police still aren't sure how the car got into the pond. No suspects have been named in the 31-year-old car theft.
It’s not clear how long it will take for the car to be removed from the pond.
Officials advise that people avoid that area of the park and pond, so that they can continue to work and get the car out. They are also asking people to stay away so they don't get stuck in the heavy amount of mud in the area.