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Where Not To Park Your Car: In A National Park's River


It's not every day that vehicles find their way into rivers in the National Park System, but it happened twice in the span of six days in September, once apparently due to too much libation for the driver, and once due to inattentiveness.

The first incident happened at New River Gorge National River in West Virginia early on the morning of September 13 when park staff received a report of a vehicle driven into the river at the Grandview Sandbar.

"The dispatcher also advised that the woman who’d called in the report sounded intoxicated. When (Ranger Justin) Cawiezel arrived, he located the driver of the vehicle, who reported that she had accidentally driven the vehicle into the river and said that she first became aware that she was in the river when she noticed her feet were getting wet," noted the park's chief ranger, Jeff West, in his report.

"She said that she was able to get out of the vehicle through the open driver’s side window. Cawiezel determined that she had been alone when she drove the car in the river; suspecting that the driver was impaired, he performed the standard field sobriety tests and found that she registered a .094 two hours after the accident," the chief ranger's report added. "The 1991 white Cavalier had floated for some distance before it sank. Assisted by a regional dive team, rangers were able to locate the vehicle about 30 yards downstream from the landing. The vehicle was removed from the river intact without any leakage."

Six days later, another rig ended up all wet, this time in the Schuylkill River at Valley Forge National Historical Park.

According to Chief Ranger Gregg Tinkham, the driver of a 2010 Jeep Wrangler Sport had come to the park to canoe the river with his wife, and had backed up the Jeep on the Betzwood boat ramp to unload his canoe.

"Shortly thereafter, the Jeep rolled down the ramp and into the Schuylkill River with his canoe attached to the roof. Recent rains had created a strong current, which immediately swept the vehicle downstream about 250 feet," the chief ranger reported. "When it came to a stop, the tip of the canoe was the only part visible above the water."

For greater insight into this incident, check out the following TV newscast, in which the Jeep's owner -- one of the station's anchors -- explains what happened.


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