WATCH: A young man made a costly mistake last night at one of Nanaimo’s parks. He wanted to have a bonfire and drove a jeep down to the centre of Pipers Lagoon but the tide started coming in and his Jeep got stuck. Kendall Hanson reports.
Pipers Lagoon is known for its natural beauty and its birds so when neighbours awoke to see a Jeep sitting in the middle of it, they were upset.
“Stupid. Someone having fun at the lagoon’s expense,” said Pat Murray, a neighbour.
“I think it’s terrible,” said Darwin Mahlum, another neighbour. “This is a bird lover’s paradise in here.”
Mahlum says he heard a commotion around midnight Tuesday and found that some people in a Jeep and another SUV had moved some boulders near his house to gain access to the beach.
They then drove into Piper’s Lagoon. The tide was low at the time. They did some doughnuts then stopped in the middle of the lagoon and started a fire. But as the tide started coming in, the Jeep became stuck. They couldn’t pull it out, so they called a towing company.
“We got a phone call in the middle of the night with not enough information to what we really had to deal with,” said Ralph Ten Have, the owner of Mid Island Towing. “We came down and looked at it and with the tide coming in and there was no accessibility to be able to get it out in a reasonable time frame.”
The Jeep was abandoned.
“Silly. I hope they have a good insurance policy because that does not look like an old Jeep,” said Tamara Baxter, a neighbour.
Early Wednesday afternoon, a team of tow truck drivers arrived with lots of cables.
“I’ve got probably better than 700 feet cause when we tried to do it last night with the 300 feet, we were told that it was it was nowhere near enough,” said Ten Have.
The driver didn’t want to talk on camera but said they tried desperately for hours to get the Jeep out and he’s worried insurance won’t cover it.
“High tide was 6:30 so when I got up you could see the oil coming out. Sort of a fuel floating on the water,” said Mahlum.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada officials won’t be pursuing charges. They say Pipers’ Lagoon is considered already contaminated and that shellfish harvesting hasn’t been allowed here for the past 20 years.
Still, it was an expensive mistake, but one that has happened before, Mid Island Towing says they pulled a pickup truck from the same spot 30 years ago.