A hand gun, a toilet, bicycles and car keys are a few of the items that have been found this week at Pratt County Veterans Memorial Lake, as well as that long submerged pickup.
Interesting items continue to turn up from the bottom and sides of Pratt County Veterans Memorial Lake as draining efforts continue, necessary to repair flood damage from the 2018 Labor Day Flood. In addition to finding a submerged, stolen pickup, Hunter Waters, Macksville, said he and friends have found a hand gun, car keys, lures and scrap metal. Other treasure hunters have found a toilet, the top of a safe and mangled bicycles.
“I would definitely not advise people to go walking around down there because there is a lot of broken glass and trash,” said Pratt County Road Supervisor Doug Freund. “It is not a safe environment, but whatever people find, I guess is theirs to determine what they want to do with it. “
Freund, who is supervising the lake drain, said he hoped it would be completely dry by May 1.
“I’m going to try and get it as dry as I can in the next 10 days,” he said. “We are not sure where the tube is for the outlet and we need to get that far in order to fix the problem.”
Freund, who said the average depth of the lake is 6-11 feet deep, also said that most of the fish had been already taken out of the water by Kansas Wildlife Parks and Tourism employees.
“They’ve shocked and seined out just about everything they could get,” he said. “But they couldn’t get everything and there are still some fish churning the water out there.”
Salvage rules have been posted around the lake and people are welcome to get fish out by any means possible, but they do need to have a license, Freund said.
Waters, a Pratt Community College student, said he and his buddies planned to fish and continue to look for items around the edges as more and more depth is exposed.
“It’s kind of like a treasure hunt,” he said. “I’ve been fishing at this lake since I was 6 and won a fishing derby here. This is my lake. I love it out here.”
He said his girlfriend, Chantel Owen, was actually the person who found the hand gun.
“We were walking around the sides, just picking up small pieces of scrap metal,” he said. “I gave her a little net because she wanted to catch a fish, and then all of the sudden she said, ‘I think I’ve found a gun.’ After that it was kind of scary. I sent a picture to my step-dad who is the sheriff in Stafford County and he advised me to contact Pratt County. He said it looked real, and I guess it was.”
According to Waters, the handgun is now in custody with the Pratt County Sheriff’s Department, and the deputy who came out to make the report said Waters would be contacted if they were able to find out any information about it. So far there has been no further details.
Captain Dan Ailstock of the Pratt County Sheriff’s Department said anyone who finds something in the lake that could be considered part of a criminal investigation should certainly contact the sheriff’s department and make a report.
“It would be in the best of interest of anyone to contact us with similar finds that could have been stolen or lost,” Ailstock said. “We need to be able to verify that it is, or is not, part of any ongoing case or a piece of evidence.”
Waters followed that procedure by calling in the sighting of the submerged pickup that was pulled from the lake early Tuesday morning. His friend Austin Hermstein was the one who made actual the discovery.
Ailstock said the top of a safe, found Thursday evening in the lake, had no identifying details or marks, so it’s origin remains a mystery. A toilet found in the water also has not been linked to anyone or any type of criminal activity. Numerous bicycle parts and mangled frames along the now-exposed rock banks also have not been identifiable as to ownership.