Crews continue slow process of removing bulldozer from lake

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Chippewa County, Wis. (WEAU)- Nearly a week after a 10-ton machine crashes through the ice on Lake Wissota, the slow process of bringing it back to dry land continues into the night Wednesday.

Last week Thursday the equipment fell through the ice while crews were preparing a track for a vintage snowmobile race. Wednesday crews spent the day trying to bring the bulldozer back to dry land.

“When you are down there you are pushing down in the muck and it's a real soft bottom on the bottom of the lake,” diver Brad Ingram said.

Diving in freezing cold water is all in a day’s work for Ingram. But Wednesday’s task, hooking cables to a ten ton bulldozer, isn't something he normally does.

“I’ve never seen something this big. Not many people put a bulldozer through ice,” Ingram said.

Ingram is one part of a team that’s spent hours figuring out the details of how to get such a big machine back on dry land.

“We started digging a trench from the bulldozer to the winch around 9 AM. The cable goes through the ice trench which is 680 feet long,” site supervisor Dan Koich said.

Koich says they were hoping to get the bulldozer out earlier in the day Wednesday, but problems cutting through the ice slowed the process.

“There are different layers of slush above the good ice. That means the auger that's cutting the trench is cutting through some water and that's acting as a lubricant and preventing it from cutting effectively,” Koich explained.

After divers were able to connect cables to the machine late Wednesday the winching process started.
That's the method being used to basically pull the machine from the water. But there is plenty that could go wrong before the bulldozer makes it back to the surface.

“We don't know what is going to happen with the dozer dragging on the bottom of the lake. Hopefully it comes out real easy,” Koich added.

The winching process is expected to take several hours. Crews say once the bulldozer is into shallow water it must be lifted out of the water and then it will finally make its way to dry land.

Crews say they don’t know how long it could take to pull the bulldozer back to shore.

Right now they are asking onlookers to stay away from the area just in case a cable snaps as the bulldozer is being pulled from the water.

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