Divers in the High Desert spent hours searching the California Aqueduct Friday, hauling up several cars that were submerged in the cold water.
The dive team located and recovered a total of three and a half cars in the Hesperia aqueduct.
At least one the vehicles may have been there for a decade at the aqueduct at 15253 Ranchero Rd.
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There are several reasons why the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s dive team began pulling vehicles out of the aqueduct between the 395 and Interstate 15.
"When the vehicles are going in the water like that, they're dumping toxic chemicals into the water -- the gasoline, the oil -- and sometimes they're sitting in there for several years,” said San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Cindy Bachman.
They are also being pulled out because many of them are stolen, like a Ford F-150 that was barely recognizable.
It was taken back in 2008, and deputies say it was most likely picked for parts and dumped in the aqueduct. But not all of the vehicles are stolen.
"People are either distracted or they fall asleep,” Bachman said of other cars that have been crashed into the aqueduct.
Deputies say a young man fell asleep at the wheel back in February and nearly died from the cold water after plunging in.
"He had ice in his clothing so he's extremely lucky that he survived,” Bachman said.
Deputies say drivers need to be extra careful, especially when they are near water sources like aqueducts.
"It's dangerous for even the best swimmers. Our divers have to get the state to slow down the water so they can get in,” Bachman said.
Even with the water slowed down, divers have to be extra careful as they navigate underwater.
For divers, it isn’t just about recovering vehicles: it’s also about training for situations when lives are at stake.
“When it comes to emergency situations, if they are in a rescue, they have some experience of being in this type of water and they're able to do it safely,” she said.
Deputies also want to warn people who fish in the area to stay far away from the water’s edge.
Once someone falls in, it’s incredibly difficult to get out.