Police recover stolen car from Missouri River — no one inside, owner reported safe
Authorities pulled a car out of the Missouri River on Monday afternoon, a day after witnesses reported seeing it go into the water near the Heart of America Bridge.
No one was inside the car, police said. It remained unclear exactly how the car, which had been reported stolen in Overland Park, wound up in the water.
Witnesses had reported seeing the white sedan go into the river near the bridge about 9 p.m. Sunday. For much of Sunday night and Monday, officials suspected someone might have been in the car when it sank. The recovery of the car came after Kansas City police and fire crews, joined by the Missouri Highway Patrol, spent hours searching for it.
A tow truck pulled the car from the water about 5:30 p.m., after divers with the patrol found it earlier Monday. The patrol used boats and sonar to search the water.
A license plate on the car showed it registered to two Overland Park residents, said Officer Darin Snapp, a Kansas City police spokesman.
“We searched it, there were no people in the vehicle, which would have been our worst nightmare,” Snapp said.
He said that the car was reported stolen in Overland Park on Sunday evening. Police spoke with the owner, who was unharmed.
Based on witness statements, officials initially thought someone was inside the car when it went into the river. Tire tracks showed the car did not take a straight path into the water, making police think someone had steered it in.
Witnesses told police that the car bobbed and spun around for about three minutes before submerging. The car floated downstream from where it went into the river.
A Missouri Highway Patrol dive team arrived from Jefferson City on Monday to help pull the vehicle from the river, according to Kansas City Fire Department Battalion Chief Larry Young.
The Kansas City Fire Department does not have a dive team, and all the local dive teams generally will not dive into the Missouri River because the job is so challenging and risky, Young said.
“As you know, the river moves. It’s not what we would consider real swift water, but it is moving water, and the current is always a challenge,” Young said. “The bottom is all silt. It is kind of a quicksand consistency.”
An initial search Monday afternoon did not appear to be fruitful, but as the boat started moving farther out a grappling hook snagged something in the water. Divers followed the rope down to see what the hook grabbed onto, and soon after they reported finding the white sedan.
“It’s not uncommon for people to dump cars in the river, unfortunately,” Young said.