An empty sport utility vehicle was found nearly submerged in the Ramapo River Friday morning, prompting passing motorists to call 911 and dive teams to search the area, officials said.
Suffern police traced the 2005 Ford Explorer to a Mahwah, N.J., woman, whose name is not being released. Authorities believe a family member took the vehicle for an off-roading joy ride Thursday night and ditched it when it became stuck in the rising waters.
Calls to police began flooding in around 8:45 a.m. when passersby spotted the vehicle beneath an overpass by the intersection of the Thruway and Interstate 287 in Hillburn, Wren said.
The Hillburn Fire Department and dive teams from the Sloatsburg fire departments were called to the scene, who then asked for assistance from the Mahwah Fire Department to use their airboat.
"They came up to the center of the Ramapo River from New Jersey and they were able to enter the car," Wren said. "They broke a window and a firefighter checked the inside but there were no victims."
Firefighters were able to recover license plates that were used to track the vehicle to its owner, Wren said.
Emergency responders continued to check the river -- which became "dangerous" due to the overnight rain -- until about 9:15 a.m.
"They didn't go into the water; they operated off the airboat," Wren said, citing the dangers of the rapidly flowing river. "The river was swelling at 7 mph. There was all kinds of things floating down the river and there was zero visibility."
Suffern police said they do not consider this to be a suspicious incident and do not believe the car was stolen.
With News 12