Around 8 a.m., April 17, Sheffield Lake Mayor Dennis Bring said the excavator, which weighs somewhere around 60,000 pounds, was attempting to perform routine dredging when it became entrapped in the muck.
Bring said an inexperienced worker drove to the edge of the ramp, panicked as the machine began to slide, spun the boom around and got water in the motor’s fan, causing the excavator to stall out.
“Once it stalled, there was no way to start it because there was too much water,” he said.
Avon Lake-based Concrete and More was sub-contracted to perform the routine dredging, Bring said.
Hastings said the city had used other contractors in the past and were contacted by the company in February about doing the work. Since the project was less than $10,000, it did not require the Council’s formal approval.
Part of the problem with removing the heavy piece of machinery is it is dead weight. A second roughly 30,000 pound excavator was used to try to remove the larger sunken one, but to no avail, the mayor said.
World Truck Towing and Recovery was on scene the morning of April 18 as a diver prepared to enter Lake Erie to assist in the removal of the excavator, Bring said.
Hastings said the excavator was out of the water and the city was waiting on equipment to haul it out of the area.
The plan was to use the smaller excavator to lift the sunken one as the tow truck pulls it out, he said.
The U.S. Coast Guard was on scene April 17 and confirmed the stuck excavator posed no threat to the lake, Bring said.
Hastings said the city is still awaiting the arrival of the Army Corps of Engineers and precautionary buoys have been placed in the area of the incident to warn residents while officials on the ground are re-assessing the situation. At this time, city officials do not anticipate any fines.
The work comes at no additional cost to the city and the responsibility for the removal of the excavator from the water is the responsibility of the contractor, Hastings said.
“They had the experience and it really is an unfortunate situation,” he said.