ACADIA NATIONAL PARK — A Florida woman escaped serious injury when the van she was driving hit several granite coping stones and plunged 25 feet over a vertical stone wall on the Ocean Drive near Otter Cliffs the morning of Aug. 27.
The 2016 Kia Sedona ended up on its roof between trees, and the engine caught fire as a result of the crash.
Bicyclist Walter Jaurena of Buenos Aires, Argentina, helped Brenda McCabe, 57, of St. Petersburg out of the van after using a fire extinguisher from a passing Island Explorer bus to put out the flames under the hood. Rangers and Bar Harbor Firefighters and ambulance personnel responded to the crash. McCabe was taken by Bar Harbor Ambulance to the Mount Desert Island Hospital Emergency Room where she was treated for minor injuries and later released.
Rangers hailed Jaurena, who just happened to be riding by, as a hero.
The accident happened about halfway between the Miller Garden Road turnoff and where the loop road splits overlooking the ocean at the highest point of the cliffs. The Sedona apparently veered to the left side of the two-land, one-way road and struck a large granite coping stone, pushing it into another. Both rocks, which each weigh an estimated 800 pounds, ended up at the bottom of the drop off as well.
The driver was wearing a seat belt, and the airbags deployed in the crash.
Later Thursday, in a comment on the Islander’s Facebook page, McCabe said she didn’t know how the accident happened. “I was driving down the road, heard a bang, looked to my right (that’s where I thought the sound came from) and next thing I know, I am holding the windshield and sliding down the hill. I would like to know how I got over the boulders and then downhill. Angel on my side,” she wrote.
Jaurena weighed in on Facebook as well. “Thanks to all who helped in this accident,” he said.
Rangers closed off the Otter Cliffs section of the loop road and detoured traffic through the Fabbri Picnic area for approximately two hours. A boom truck from L.E. Norwood and Sons Masonry company was used to extricate the Sedona from the bottom of the drop off.
The Sedona was considered a total loss. After the vehicle was searched by rangers later in the day, they reportedly discovered marijuana in the vehicle. McCabe was issued a federal citation on a charge of possession of a controlled substance.
The cause of the accident remains under investigation.