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October 5, 2013

Driver escapes after SUV crashes into river

Driver escapes through sunroof after SUV crashes

A Rockport man’s lunchtime drive out to Gloucester’s Stone Pier ended with him climbing out of his SUV’s sunroof after his flip-flop shoe snagged the gas pedal and sent him lurching into the Jones River at high tide.

The Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle floated about 150 feet before filling with water and sinking onto a sandbar in the river, according to firefighter Greg Marchant, who was on scene as a tow truck later extricated the vehicle.

The driver and lone passenger escaped the vehicle and swam safely ashore. No one was injured in the incident.

“He hit the water and climbed out through the sunroof, sat there in shock for a little while and swam in,” Marchant said. “I think he was more bummed out than anything.”

People nearby offered jackets and blankets to the man, according to Marchant. Then the two-hour process of removing the car — totaled by the salty water — began.

Firefighters climbed aboard as passengers on the harbormaster’s boat, and rode out to the vehicle to attach tow cables connecting the vehicle with a Tally’s Towing truck.

Had the salt water not already totaled the car, the lift up over the pier’s wall might have done the trick, according to Marchant.

“The roof buckled, the windshield cracked. It was crunching up,” Marchant said.

A tow truck cable snapped but the tow crew replaced it with a spare, and hauled the vehicle up over the wall’s corner as the Explorer creaked and crunched, before loading it onto a truck.

The incident is not the first such accident at or off the Stone Pier.

In 2009, another man drove his vehicle off the same pier and both he and a passenger suffered injuries. That driver had struck a rut in the road before veering off the pier.

Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at mnesin@gloucestertimes.com.

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