Car Plunges Into Cassadaga Lake

CASSADAGA – Occupants of a car escaped a potentially catastrophic incident early Thursday morning, when the car in which they were riding ended up in Cassadaga Lake off Dale Drive.

Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office, Cassadaga Fire Department and the Chautauqua County Dive Team were called out to the scene shortly before 6:30 a.m. for the report of the accident. The vehicle allegedly failed to negotiate a curve, striking a tree before coming to rest on its roof in the water. Rodney Waite, who lives on Dale Drive directly across from the lake, first saw the vehicle when he went out for a walk.

“I definitely took a double take because it’s pretty dark out there and cars just don’t go in the lake,” Waite said.

Waite said he ran back to his house to grab a flashlight to see what the object really was. He said three doors of the vehicle were open and he saw an article of clothing floating near the surface.

He immediately called the sheriff’s office. Tim Cobb Jr., Cassadaga Fire first assistant chief, said when the department found the car it was on its roof in about three feet of water.

“We got there on scene and the car was on its roof. Our crew … got into our wetsuits and we did a search and we couldn’t find anything,” Cobb said.

The county dive team also responded and searched the lake. According to police, all occupants had evacuated prior to police arrival and the vehicle had been in the lake for some time. Cobb said the vehicle had hit a tree prior to entering the lake.

“When they went into the lake it looked like (the car) sideswiped a tree which ripped off the bumper making the car look more (compact),” Cobb said.

Waite said he did not hear anything unusual earlier in the morning. He said he has lived on Dale Drive for 11 years and has witnessed two other accidents on that particular curve. One other vehicle ended up in the lake and another came to rest in Waite’s yard. He said he put large rocks in his front yard to help warn motorists to watch out for the curve that’s nearly a 90-degree turn.

“People need to slow around the corner,” he added.

Crews were on scene retrieving the car from the lake until 8 a.m., according to Cobb. There were no reported injuries and police did not release names of those involved.