RACINE -- A Racine family is in shock after learning their loved one died after losing control of his truck, which then submerged in a retention pond. Police say witnesses saw the driver lose control of his truck and head into the pond Monday night, December 11th. Investigators still don't know what caused the erratic behavior, but the victim's aunt believes he had a medical emergency.
Tire tracks, broken ice and car parts pinpoint the spot where the driver, identified as 46-year-old Jeffery Ingle, crashed into the frozen pond near 21st and Green Bay Road in Racine.
"I just couldn't believe it. It's just mind-boggling," said Penny Brown, Ingle's aunt.
Brown said her nephew cared for his father and had been running errands with him prior to the incident.
"He would do anything for anybody," said Brown. "He took his dad's truck and went to get something to eat and he never made it back."
While waiting for emergency crews to arrive at the scene Monday night, an off-duty firefighter happened to pass by the area, and he spotted the vehicle partially submerged. Despite the below-freezing temperatures, that firefighter jumped into the pond to try to help.
"He was able to give us information that someone was absolutely in the vehicle," said Battalion Chief Willie Hargrove with the Racine Fire Department. "If he would have said that vehicle was empty, we're basically on a nothing call. That's a big thought process for us in this type of weather, is keeping our personnel warm."
Hargrove said within 7 minutes, divers recovered Ingle, but it was too late.
"He was still seat belted in his vehicle when he was found," said Brown.
Brown said she's now trying to make sense of the bizarre and tragic turn of events. She said her nephew does have a history of heart problems and seizures.
"He's had seizures so I don't know if this happened that caused him to go down here. I don't know. It's just sad," said Brown.
Brown said she is sure Ingle was not drinking prior to the crash.
Racine police are asking for any witnesses to come forward.