Ford Bronco Driver Ignores Road Closed Sign, Plunges Into Frozen River

The passengers allegedly escaped without serious injury, but the truck is definitely a goner.

byPeter Holderith|
Ford News photo

A Ford Bronco is ruined after attempting to drive across a frozen river on the night of Sunday, Feb. 6 in Kentucky. The driver of the vehicle, who was reportedly unharmed, drove past a "road closed" sign allegedly unaware of the river ahead of him due to heavy snowfall, which reportedly made it appear no different than the road they were currently driving on. Ultimately, the truck sank up to the roof after breaking through the ice. After spending three long days submerged, the Bronco in question is, without a doubt, totaled.

This all took place on the Ohio River, east of Cincinnati, Ohio. The owner of a nearby marina witnessed the aftermath of the incident and sent notified Dave Landwehr, who, as well as also owning another marina nearby, administers the Facebook Group Bronco 6th Gen. Landwehr was able to provide The Drive details of what happened, as well as photos from the person who recorded the drama.

Dave Landwehr via Facebook

Landwehr indicates that the driver likely ignored the "road closed" sign because of recent weather conditions in the area. Several inches of ice and then snow coated the roadways in the region, including the low-lying path across the Ohio River that the Bronco attempted to cross. In the days leading up to the incident, the river reportedly rose several feet, carrying ice and snow with it. A path previously plowed through the snow reportedly remained, which made the crossing similar to a normal road to somebody unfamiliar with the area.

"The ice that was on the road rose with the river... everything rose," Landwehr told me. "The river sat there for a day or so at that elevation, and froze to the existing road."

All of this, Landwehr thinks, lead to the driver assuming the road was closed just due to icy conditions. Being in a Bronco, they must've figured some ice should be no problem. Obviously, though, that's not what happened. After driving out a short distance out on the frozen surface, the truck broke through, sinking far into the river. "It sunk almost all the way over his top," Landwehr said. "They could not get their doors open because of the ice, so they had to pull the top back and get out... though the top." After escaping the vehicle, the two passengers were reportedly able to swim to shore and receive help from a nearby apartment complex. "They are ok," Landwehr says. "They just got wet and cold, but [it] was not far or too deep."

With the Bronco now stuck in the river, the question arose as to how it would be pulled out. Likely wanting to avoid an expensive recovery effort, the owner allegedly elected to wait for the flooded Ohio river to lower, at which point the truck would be on solid ground and pulled out more easily. The waterway, however, sitting around six feet higher than it usually does in that area, didn't lower for a few days. When the truck was finally pulled out, it was not a pretty picture.

In the photos above, you can see just how deep the Bronco went into the river. The third brake light is just barely sticking out above the frigid water, and the top is pulled back. The interior, needless to say, is completely ruined. We couldn't ascertain specifically which engine the truck is equipped with, but it's clearly a Big Bend machine with an automatic transmission.

The passengers are reportedly fine, but the truck is definitely not. This flooded Bronco is almost definitely on the way to a Copart lot soon, where, with how tight the supply of parts and semiconductors is right now, it will likely be cannibalized for anything not ruined by its long soak in the wintry water. 

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