February 26, 2010

Another city vehicle falls through park pond's iceThat familiar sinking feelingThis is a 6-60-1 dummy headyne yyyyy

By BETH QUIMBY Staff Writer

— By BETH QUIMBY

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David MacDonald, Staff Photographer, December 30, 1987: City crew prepares to hoist truck from Deering Oaks Pond as an oblivious young skater passes. The city truck broke through thin ice while plowing away the recent snow.

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Staff Photo by John Ewing, Tuesday, February 28, 2006: A Portland Parks and Recreation truck fell through the ice at Deering Oaks Pond Tuesday morning as it was clearing an area for skating. City officials said the work crew had checked to make sure the ice was thick enough but that one of the truck's tires hit an air pocket and broke through. The truck sunk into the water up to its hood. The driver was not injured and the truck was pulled free with only minor body damage. The pond remains closed to skating.

Additional Photos Below

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — It was bad enough that the snow- clearing machine broke through the ice on the Deering Oaks pond Monday morning.

With the accident in plain view, the Portland Public Services crew also was subjected to steady hoots and horn blasts from passing motorists as it worked to extract the 5,000-pound vehicle from the water.

''We were trying to do a good thing'' by clearing the ice right after this weekend's snowstorm, said Joe Dumais, Portland's parks and cemeteries coordinator.

The silver lining: The city has extensive experience with removing its vehicles from the Deering Oaks skating pond. City-owned snow-clearing machines crashed through the ice on Feb. 28, 2006, on Feb. 26, 1991, and on Dec. 30, 1987, according to Portland Press Herald photo archives.

To remove the machine this time, the city hired Quality Crane Services of Portland, which sent out a flatbed tractor-trailer carrying a 165-ton crane and a half-dozen workers in hard hats.

''That is by far the best way to take care of the situation,'' said Tom Civiello, Portland's parks and open-space manager.

After some maneuvering, the crane lifted the Bobcat out of the water and about 30 feet into the air, then placed it gently on firm ground. The procedure, completed shortly after 2 p.m., was followed closely by a number of spectators, many of them shooting video.

The $45,000 Bobcat was not damaged because the engine remained above water. There was no fuel spill, and no one was hurt.

It is unclear how much the extraction will cost the city. Civiello estimated $500. James Harkins, project manager for Quality Crane Services, said his company charges by the hour.

''It's going to be a lot,'' he said.

Dumais, the parks coordinator, said the city measured the ice by drilling on Saturday, when it was deemed thick enough for vehicles.

There was some disagreement at the scene whether the ice should have been measured again Monday morning. Temperatures reached the low to mid-30s both Sunday and Monday.

David Smith, who was driving the Bobcat when it plunged through the ice, said he called for help and then managed to crawl out of the vehicle without getting wet.

He declined comment on why the ice was not measured before he went out. ''I am pleading the Fifth,'' he said.

Smith donned waders to stand in the icy thigh-high water and help rescue the vehicle.

Civiello said the city tries to clean the ice quickly after storms, or the ice could be ruined for the rest of the winter. He said Portland uses a machine that requires a single operator instead of clearing the pond with snowblowers, which would require more manpower.

Civiello said it is too soon tell whether the pond will be ready for skating again this season. The Bobcat had cleared only a small section when it fell in.

Most of the pond is still covered with slushy snow, which, unless it is cleared, will be a pitted mess when it freezes.

''People are trying to do the right thing,'' said Civiello. ''It comes back to bite you. It is a frustrating thing.''

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

bquimby@pressherald.com

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Additional Photos

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Doug jones/Staff Photographer, February 26, 1991: Two city trucks go through the ice at Deering Oaks Park, Portland.

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Photo by Gordon Chibroski,Staff Photographer. Monday, January 4, 2010. A crew from the Portland Public Services Department surveys the situation after a piece of snow clearing equipment broke through the ice at Deering Oaks Park this morning. Mild temperatures and rain over the past two days contributed to the accident, according to a city worker who was passing by.

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Photo by John Ewing/Staff Photographer... Monday, January 4, 2010...A large crane was used to pull a Portland Public Works vehicle from a hole in the ice at the Deering Oaks skating pond in Portland. The truck broke through the ice earlier in the day while clearing the ice for skaters.



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