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Driver Follows GPS Directions Into Water at Whittier Harbor

August 23, 2012|By Blake Essig | Channel 2 News
  • Whitier police say a man drove into the local harbor Thursday morning shortly after getting off a ferry, when his GPS device told him to turn right. The man and two dogs were rescued from the vehicle, but a cat who was trapped inside died.
Courtesy Alyssa Ginn

WHITTIER, Alaska — A driver was following his car’s GPS device when he drove into the water in Whittier Harbor Thursday morning shortly after getting off a ferry, according to local police.

Whittier Police Department Chief Dave Schofield says the driver was in a Subaru with two dogs and a cat as he drove off the ferry at about 6:15 a.m., in the dark under heavy rain. When the vehicle’s GPS told the driver to turn right, he then drove down a ramp into the harbor at near high tide, submerging the vehicle in five feet of water.

According to witnesses, two women who were following the Subaru went back to the ferry terminal to summon help. A former Marine jumped into the water, then shattered the car’s rear window with needlenose pliers.

Schofield says rescuers were able to remove the driver and the dogs in a matter of minutes, but the cat was trapped and died.

The driver, who was reportedly stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, was apparently uninjured but taken to a hospital on base for observation. The rescuer who broke open the rear window suffered glass cuts during the incident.

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