Rescued Lost Hikers Drown After Wrong Turn in Maine

July 24, 2013
It was raining hard when the women made the wrong turn, and their vehicle went off a boat landing and sunk.

July 24--ROQUE BLUFFS -- A woman who had lived in Machias for just a year and her friend from Pennsylvania, who was five months pregnant, died Tuesday night when they apparently drove their vehicle off a boat landing and sank.

The crash happened just a few minutes after the women had been rescued after getting lost at the nearby Roque Bluff State Park in the midst of a steady downpour. Amy Stiner, 37, of Machias and Melissa Moyer, 38, of Sunbury, Pa. -- who was pregnant -- had called for help because it was getting dark. An off-duty firefighter found the pair and took them to their car, a 2001 blue Dodge minivan, said Washington County Sheriff Donnie Smith.

As the pair left the parking area, Stiner took a right on Schoppee Point Road instead of the left that would have taken them back to Machias.

"The end of the road becomes the boat landing and they just weren't familiar with it," Smith said. "It was foggy and rainy and they literally drove off the boat landing right into the water."

"It's just so easy to do. When I got the call last night, I knew what had happened," he said.

The road ends in a remote boat landing where there are no homes or businesses, and none of the fishing boats were occupied because of the late hour and foul weather, Smith said.

They were able to call 911 on a cellphone at 9 p.m. and reached the Maine State Police barracks in Orono, Smith said.

"They said they were in the water and the car was filling with the water. And then the phone just went dead," Smith said.

Sheriff's deputies and game wardens responded and used the cellphone's GPS coordinates to locate the van about 175 feet from shore at 10 p.m. The women were found in the back seat, probably because the van would have sunk front end first, and the back would have been the last area to fill with water, Smith said.

A dog also died.

Smith said other cars have been driven into the ocean there, though not with such tragic results. In those cases, cars have floated for a period of time before sinking, which would explain how the van came to be so far from shore, he said.

Stiner was from Pennsylvania and has lived in Machias for about a year, Smith said, and may have been unfamiliar with the Roque Bluffs area. Moyer was also from Pennsylvania.

Smith did not know details about Moyer's family but said they were headed to Maine on Wednesday.

Smith said nobody knows why the pair turned the wrong way on Schoppee Point Road.

"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."

Copyright 2013 - Portland Press Herald, Maine

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