BLACKBERRY TOWNSHIP – Gary Thielk of Batavia was able to safely escape his vehicle after it became almost completely submerged in a pond Friday afternoon at a forest preserve in Blackberry Township.
Thielk, 72, said he had planned to take a five- to 10-minute fishing break Friday afternoon at Grunwald Farms Forest Preserve.
He said sometime around 2:30 p.m., he used a boat ramp to back his 2006 Ford Ranger truck close to the pond, but he said he decided to pull it forward because it was a little too close to the water. While moving his truck, Thielk said his leg got stuck and his truck rolled backwards into the pond.
"I don't know how my leg got stuck," he said. "I didn't want to become a fatality."
Thielk said almost his whole car was submerged in water, but he was able to escape by working his leg loose and opening the driver's side door. He said he swam to shore and walked to a nearby building to call for help.
His car was about 40 feet off shore and divers helped recover some of his belongings, some of which had floated to the surface of the pond. The Elburn & Countryside Fire Protection District responded to the scene, along with the Kane County Forest Preserve. Thielk was given a set of dry clothes to change into and he was not transported for treatment. By about 3:30 p.m., emergency responders had left the scene and Thielk's truck was towed from the area.
Thielk said he considers himself lucky.
"That could've been the end of me," he said.
Still, he said his narrow escape from the pond won't stop him from fishing there again in the future.
"I'm just glad I'm alert enough to get out," he said.