Emergency workers wait at the boat ramp at the Bernard Town Wharf in Tremont for a tow truck to remove this 2017 Audi that a New York man accidentally drove into Bass Harbor Tuesday night. The driver and his wife were not injured. ISLANDER PHOTO BY MARK GOOD

Car drives into Bass Harbor

TREMONT — A couple from New York was rescued Tuesday night after accidentally driving their car into Bass Harbor at the Bernard Town Wharf.

The driver, John Cocks Jr., 72, of New York City, and his wife, Verna, 79, had just left Thurston’s Lobster Pound and were on their way to their seasonal home in Somesville when he made a wrong turn onto the road leading to the wharf. Cocks drove down the boat launch ramp next to the wharf and into the water, according to Lt. Chris Thornton of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office.

“Poor visibility was definitely a factor,” Thornton said. “I think the fog and unfamiliarity with the area played a part.”

With the 2017 Audi floating in the harbor and the couple still inside, Cocks tried three times to call 911 before getting through to the Hancock County Regional Communications Center shortly before 8 p.m. Thornton said atmospheric conditions might have limited cell phone service.

Thornton happened to be on patrol in Tremont and responded immediately. He, Tremont Fire Chief Keith Higgins and fisherman Jon Crossman were first on the scene and spotted the vehicle in the water near a finger float used for dinghies.

“We ran down to the float and used dinghies to get them out,” Thornton said.

Fortunately, the Audi’s power windows were open. The three men were able to get the couple out through the windows in about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, the car was beginning to fill with water and starting to list onto one side. By then, other help had arrived and dinghies were used to tow the still-floating Audi back to the boat ramp, where it was tied up until a tow truck arrived.

“It’s amazing that it stayed buoyant,” Thornton said.

Members of the Southwest Harbor Ambulance Service checked the couple out and determined they were not injured.

If it weren’t for the quick response, the outcome might have been quite different, Thornton said.

Along with the agencies that responded, Thornton said work of numerous “Good Samaritans” was especially helpful.

On Wednesday morning, Harbormaster Justin Seavey estimated that the depth of the water at the end of that float at the time of the accident was about 12 feet. He said no oil or gasoline leaked into the harbor.

Updated on Sept. 27 at 12:30 p.m.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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