Coast Guard sinks truck

| Friday, July 25, 2003

Ever heard the one about the guy who was so dumb he tried to hijack a truck to Cuba?

Well, except for the direction of travel and the size of the truck, it pretty much happened last week.

Media outlets across the country reported on a group of 12 Cuban refugees who took a 1951 Chevy truck, strapped on some air-filled 55-gallon drums, put a propeller on the driveshaft and set sail for Florida.

Unfortunately, the group was discovered and picked up by the Coast Guard 40 miles short of their goal, having crossed most of the distance between the Communist island nation and the Florida coast.

Under a policy established during the Clinton administration, if Cuban refugees make it to American soil, they are allowed to stay. If caught on the ocean, they are returned to Cuba.

The truck was doing about 8 mph when it was discovered by airborne officers July 18. It wasn't hard to spot - the truck is bright green, the tarp covering the bed was bright yellow and the barrels keeping it afloat were blue.

After the Cubans were taken off, it was deemed a "hazard to navigation," and sank, Reuters news service reported.

Despite the wide variety of boats used by Cuban emigrants in years past, the boat still stands out as unique.

"We haven't come across any vehicles like that before," Coast Guard Petty Officer Ryan Doss told reporters.

If the refugees had made it, they would have at least had a bankroll to start their new lives. A quick survey of the Web site OldChevyTrucks.com shows that well-maintained 1951 Chevy pickup trucks can bring thousands of dollars on the open market. The trucks were significant because a number of features were added to Chevy's trucks that year.

No word on how much extra they bring with water wings.

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