Hunters set out to get ducks, find car instead

North Charleston police and Charleston County rescue divers retrieve a car Wednesday from the County Farm boat ramp near Leeds Avenue.

A spare tire popped to the surface with a splash. Then a flip-flop and an aerosol can. Then the trunk lid emerged and a blue Lexus sedan was towed from the Ashley River.

At the County Farm boat landing off Leeds Avenue, Hanahan resident Mark Shipman stood on the dock watching, his hands in the pockets of his camouflage outfit.

He had come out at first light to hunt duck, his launch interrupted when Ashton, his wife, spotted the raised rim of the trunk.

He reported the vehicle, then waited to make a statement to North Charleston police before boating away.

Had he seen this happen before?

"Absolutely," Shipman said.

"Wando Woods, Shem Creek."

No one was inside the vehicle, and Shipman's experience isn't anything unusual.

Pulling empty vehicles from the boat landings is routine for law enforcement and rescue workers in the Lowcountry.

The sloping ramps make a convenient slide to shove off cars someone wants to hide.

The Lexus had been reported stolen at 6 a.m. in North Charleston, less than two miles from where it was found.

The owner said she last saw the car the night before.

Charleston County Volunteer Rescue Squad divers jumped in after 35 cars so far this year, said Peter Rogers, public information officer.

"Just in the past two weeks we've had three." Only about 2 percent turn up with a body inside, but "they're all treated the same because those 2 percent make a difference."

The partially open passenger window spilled water. An empty anti-freeze jug floated on the flooded floor.

A plastic cup still sat on the dashboard.

Down the dock, Ashton Shipman retrieved another flip-flop from the water. Rescue squad diver William Kitchener peeled off gear and blew a deep breath out red cheeks.

The call to dive had been his wake-up this morning. Was it cold?

"Very," he said.

What did Shipman, who duck hunts every day during the holidays, get for his trouble Wednesday?

"One goose," he said.

Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744 or bpetersen@post