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Minivan takes frosty plunge


Emergency crews watch as owner James Browne’s van floats down the Moira River in Belleville on Friday. Browne was working on his car when the transmission failed and his Pontiac Trans Sport rolled backwards into the river. Photo by Marta Iwanek. 

By Marta Iwanek

Emergency crews were treated to a strange sight when they responded to a call on Friday afternoon on the Moira River.

Belleville resident James Browne was working on his gold Pontiac Trans Sport when its transmission failed and the vehicle rolled into the river behind his home.

No one was in the vehicle at the time. The van was Browne’s only car.

The fire department was called to help remove the vehicle, however, after an attempt to hook it to a tow truck, the van came loose and floated downstream. The van remains in the river north of the intersection of Moira Street East and Elm Street.

Belleville police Sgt. Sheri Meeks said the car is no longer a police matter.

“It’s been handed over to other agencies and I believe the Ministry of Environment is one of them.”

In an email, Kate Jordan from the Ministry of Environment Communications Branch said the ministry’s jurisdiction is in regards to any spills from the vehicle, however, its owner said the fuel level was low at the time. She said the Ministry has been in discussions with Belleville’s fire department and the owner since Friday. She added the owner of the van has been advised the vehicle needs to be removed and, “Concern is being given to the strong river flow and ice in the Moira River.”

Belleville Fire Department Acting Captain Rick Matthews said they are looking into the “safest, best options of removing the van,” and want to look at all options before making their decision.