FOSS LAKE — Even through the muck of this Oklahoma lake, George Hoyle and his team could see the outline of the car perfectly.
Hoyle, a trooper with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol's Marine Division, said Sept. 10 was the first day to test out the patrol's newly installed sonar.
The new system, a Humminbird 1196, is able to create an underwater image 150 feet out on both sides of the boat.
When something of interest shows up, the spot can be targeted to get a clearer image.
Troopers were using the device to examine an area from the end of the boat ramp to about 100 feet out into the water when they made their discovery.
“The first thing I saw was the Chevrolet,” Hoyle said. “It didn't matter how murky the water is because it's based on sound. We got a clear image of the car, saw that the door was open and recognized the crown of the wheel well.”
The subsequent recovery of a 1950s-era Chevy and a 1969 Chevy Camaro, each with three bodies inside has not only reopened six cold cases long forgotten, but has also sparked Hoyle's interest in using the equipment more.
“We were training with it so we were able to take our time,” he said.
“I think we will probably use this equipment more in these circumstances. Most of the time we are pressured because we need to find a body or something, but this time we were able to learn.”
Sitting in the boat custom made for the highway patrol by Jet Craft, Hoyle looked over the manual for the new sonar system and thought about the possibilities of looking into other lakes around Oklahoma.
“We are pretty sold on it, obviously,” he said. “I've been on the water for OHP for about five years, and we have pulled a lot of people out of the water. But to have family come up and say thank you very much and that they are glad to have closure feels great.
“Being able to help those families, I'm glad we had the opportunity to assist.”