© Steve Wadden - Cape Breton Pos
An underwater recovery team consisting of members of the RCMP and Cape Breton Regional Police comb the channel at the Englishtown ferry using a side scan sonar on Wednesday, as the search continued for a car that drove off the ferry
ENGLISHTOWN — A sonar device found no trace of a car that mysteriously plunged off the Englishtown ferry and into the icy depths of St. Anns Bay on Monday evening.
Police were unable to locate the vehicle by late Wednesday, and had no new leads on who might be inside the vehicle.
Swift waters, cold temperatures, wind and pack ice hampered search efforts for recovery crews during part of the day.
“They haven’t found anything at all,” said RCMP Staff Sgt. Craig Yorke on Wednesday evening. “The waters are calmer and they’re able to see the bottom, but they can’t see anything at all. They checked the bay, the channel and the mouth of the channel. The only thing that we can think of now is that the vehicle was taken with the current.”
RCMP told reporters at the scene Wednesday afternoon it’s believed it was a small, silver car that drove up and over a raised ferry ramp into the icy water below. Eyewitnesses told police the vehicle was last seen approximately 200 metres from where it entered the water, headed toward the ocean.
RCMP say so far, no one has come forward to report a missing person or persons to police.
The vehicle boarded the ferry on the Jersey Cove side of the bay before driving off the raised ramp on the other side of the ferry into the water at approximately 8:45 p.m. Monday.
At the time, it was the only vehicle making the crossing.
An RCMP underwater recovery team searched the area for several hours Monday but nothing was found. The recovery team was aided Wednesday by two divers from the Cape Breton Regional Police who are equipped with an underwater camera.
The search on Wednesday started with the use of a side scan sonar which emits cone- or fan-shaped pulses down toward the sea floor and across a wide angle perpendicular to the path of the sensor. The device was being towed by a local fishing boat.
The sonar is a system that is used to efficiently create an image of large areas of the sea floor.
“As we were passing over the cable to the ferry, we could see that coming from both sides of the shore,” said Const. Darryn Sampson, one of the RCMP divers. “The cable is only going to be an inch and a half, two inches in diameter, but we’re able to see that so we’re quite confident we would see the car if it was there.”
RCMP suspended the search at about 8 p.m. on Wednesday and are expected to resume looking for the vehicle at daylight before ice floes are expected to make their way into the search area. They are also now considering using a dragger to further search for the vehicle.
“There’s so many different factors, we don’t know how long the car stayed afloat,” said Sampson. “We’re trying to figure out the answers to it and that’s going to take some time.”