New Dive Team Called In To Help Search For Missing Utility Vehicle Rider

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

Rescuers work at the scene of a possible drowning at Lake Ponderosa. (image taken from KCRG-TV9 video)


By Richard Pratt

MONTEZUMA, Iowa -- Fire officials in Montezuma sent another dive team into the frozen water at Lake Ponderosa in Poweshiek County Monday to search for a missing person who went through the ice.

And authorities have now identified the rider who broke through the ice Saturday night.

Authorities in Montezuma say David Hartke, 57, of Grundy Center was apparently ice fishing with a friend at around 6:30 p.m. Saturday when he broke through the ice. Other residents around the private lake said Hartke may have owned two properties there although he was apparently not living there full time.

Rescue crews, including volunteer dive teams, spent at least nine hours on the search over the weekend before calling it off due to cold temperatures and the need for replacement divers.

The new volunteer team is the Midwest Regional Dive Team from Red Oak in far southwestern Iowa.

Those divers began searching shortly before noon on Monday. Fire officials described the operation as a recovery. They report the ice was only 2 inches thick at the point where the victim and the utility vehicle went into the water.

Chris Widmer, Montezuma volunteer fire chief, said divers have determined the victim is not in or around the vehicle under the ice.

"they are doing a good search out and around. They are roughly 30 feet out now doing a top search and then they'll get to the bottom and try. It's just a process of going around to see if they can see anything," Widmer said.

The volunteer chief said drivers have a limit of about 15 to 20 minutes underwater each before the must take a break.

If the victim's body is not recovered on Monday, the chief says the next step may be to call off the active search until the water warms up in the spring when recovery would be easier.

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