2 women safe after driving car into ocean

Posted March 24, 2010, at 7:34 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:46 a.m.

LAMOINE, Maine — A woman was charged with drunken driving Wednesday after she and a passenger escaped from a sinking car she had driven into the ocean.

Trooper Cliff Peterson of the Maine State Police said driver Kristin Brown, 27, and passenger Amanda McNeil, 23, both of Ellsworth, had been talking while driving down Lamoine Beach Road.

“The driver said they were talking and that she was not familiar with the area,” Peterson said. “They were driving down the road and the next thing they saw was the ocean. Then, all of a sudden, they were in the ocean.”

The women were able to roll down the windows of the vehicle, a 1998 Subaru Legacy wagon, climb through the windows and swim to shore. They made their way to a nearby home and alerted authorities.

McNeil called police about 5:25 a.m. Wednesday and reported that she and the driver were safe and out of the vehicle.

When Peterson and Marine Patrol Officer Tom Reardon arrived, the vehicle was under water.

“The vehicle was not visible,” Peterson said. “It was high tide and the car was totally submerged.”

The women were not injured in the accident and were fine except for being cold from their early morning dunking, according to Peterson.

The officers detected an odor of alcohol on the women and conducted field sobriety tests. Brown also consented to a blood test, which registered her blood-alcohol level at 0.15, almost twice the legal limit. Brown was charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant.

When the tide went out a few hours later, a tow truck was able to pull the vehicle back to shore. There was a “minimal amount of sheen” on the water near the vehicle, but Peterson said it was not enough to cause concern.

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