Amy Stiner dies: Pregnant woman and friend accidentally drive down boat ramp into ocean and DROWN minutes after they were rescued while hiking on mountaintop
- Melissa Moyer, 38, was visiting friend Amy Stiner, 37, who was five months pregnant, in Machias, Maine when they drowned at around 9 p.m. Tuesday
- The pair got lost while hiking at Roque Bluff State Park but were found by an off-duty firefighter and dropped to the parking lot to collect their vehicle
- Authorities believe Stiner accidentally took a wrong turn in the heavy fog and followed the road, which turns into a boat ramp
- If she had turned left, the road would have led the women to town
- The friends made a last tragic 911 call as the car was filling up with water, but the car had sunk by the time sheriff's deputies got to the scene
By Helen Pow
PUBLISHED: 13:12 EST, 24 July 2013 | UPDATED: 14:11 EST, 24 July 2013
A pregnant woman and her female friend drowned last night when they accidentally drove down a boat ramp into the ocean just minutes after they got lost hiking but were rescued by an off-duty firefighter.
Mother-of-one Melissa Moyer, 38, from Sunbury, Pennsylvania, was visiting long-time friend Amy Stiner, 37, who was five months pregnant, in Machias, Maine when the two women went hiking at Roque Bluff State Park but got lost in the midst of a heavy downpour.
Moyer called for help as it was getting dark and the friends were no doubt relieved when nearby landowner and member of Sunrise Search & Rescue, Wayne Hansom, found them and dropped them at Stiner's 2001 blue Dodge minivan.
But as they left the parking area at around 9 p.m., Stiner took a right turn instead of the left turn that would have taken them back to town, and accidentally drove through the heavy fog down a boat ramp and into the ocean. The pair and their dog drowned in the submerged vehicle.
Tragedy: Mother-of-one Melissa Moyer, 38, right, was visiting pregnant friend Amy Stiner, 37, left in Machias, Maine when the tragedy happened
'The end of the road becomes the boat landing and they just weren't familiar with it,' Washington County Sheriff Donnie Smith said. 'It was foggy and rainy and they literally drove off the boat landing right into the water.'
He added: 'It's just so easy to do. When I got the call last night, I knew what had happened.'
Schoppee Point Road ends in the
remote boat landing.
There are no homes or businesses in the area and none of the fishing boats were occupied because of the late hour and wild weather, Smith told the Kennebec Journal.
The women were able to call 911 on a cellphone as the car was becoming submerged. They reached Main State Police barracks in Orono.
Easy mistake: The Washington County Sheriff said the women accidentally turned right and followed the road which leads into a boat ramp, pictured
Map: The women drove down the ramp which lies at the end of Schoppee Point Road near Roque Bluffs State Park, pictured
'They called on the phone that they were in the water and the car was filling up. Then the phone went dead,' Smith said. 'An hour later, the deputies found the car.'
Sheriff's deputies used the GPS on the cellphone used to locate the van, which by 10 p.m. was about 175 feet from shore.
Smith said the women were found in the
back seat, probably because the front of the vehicle would have sunk
first, providing them a few more gasps of air.
The doors were closed and the windows were up.
Local fire departments, the Machias Police Department, Maine Marine Patrol and U.S. Coast Guard also helped search for the women after they called 911 from the vehicle.
New to the area: Amy Stiner, pictured left and right, had only lived in the small Maine town for around a year. She was five months pregnant
Sad death: Stiner, pictured here, possibly with the dog that drowned with the women, was originally from Pennsylvania
Stiner was also from Pennsylvania and had lived in Machias, a town of 300 people in eastern Maine, for about a year.
Smith called the deaths a tragic accident made worse because Stiner was five months pregnant.
'This lady lived on Kennebec Road. She wasn't far from home,' Smith said of Stiner. 'I suspect they were cold and wet and just made a mistake.'
He said the families of the women, including Moyer's 12-year-old son, Alex, were headed to Maine today.
On Wednesday morning, Alex had changed his Facebook profile and cover photograph to pictures of his mother, whom he appeared close to.
Pregnant: Melissa Moyer, 38, had a 12-year-old son when she took the trip from Sunbury, Pennsylvania to Maine this week
Heartbreak: Melissa Moyer, 38, leaves behind her 12-year-old son Alex, pictured
Justin Anthony, a local fisherman, told Bangor Daily News that he was at home Tuesday night when several emergency vehicles drove past his house with their sirens blaring.
He said he drove a couple of miles down to the ramp to see what was going on and saw that police and divers trying to get to the submerged vehicle.
Anthony said the tide was about halfway in when the incident occurred. He said he's never heard of any vehicles accidentally driving into the water before, particularly with some a devastating outcome.
'I've been living here 35 years,' Anthony said. 'It's the first time.'
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