By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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Clallam County Fire District No. 3 crews in a rescue raft worked with tow trucks from Evergreen Collision for about an hour to hook a cable around the van and pull it out of the Strait on its side just before 9 a.m.
Investigators said they believe the thieves sent the van into the water by wedging an orange road cone under the steering column to hold down the gas pedal and send it down the boat launch at Marilyn Nelson County Park at Port Williams, northeast of downtown Sequim.
Clallam County Sheriff's Sgt. Randy Pieper contacted the car's registered owner, Judy White of Port Angeles, who reported last seeing it around 4:30 a.m.
Fire District 3 Chief Steve Vogel said rescue workers were initially concerned that a body may have been inside the van, which had its driver's side window open when it was retrieved.
A diver from the Lower Elwha Klallam tribal police department was called in as officials prepared to search for a body. The diver was not deployed.
Authorities were called to the scene shortly before 8 a.m. after Lyle Hagen, manager of Sequim Valley Ranch, noticed the van's bumper sticking out of the water while making his morning rounds.
Hagen said a woman who had been walking her dogs on the beach found the car's front bumper washed ashore about a quarter-mile west of the boat launch.
Sheriff's deputies tracked the van back to White from the license plate on the bumper.
Sgt. Pieper said Port Angeles police will likely investigate the car theft.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at email@example.com.