Driver escapes after truck falls into Heritage Harbor

A few minutes before 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9, an 87-year-old driver pressed the gas pedal instead of the brake on his truck and launched from the parking lot into the water of Heritage Harbor. The driver was helped from the truck and did not appear seriously injured, said Police Chief Tom Radke.

The chief said it was his understanding that the driver hit the wrong pedal. A medical incident may have led to the accident, but Radke said the exact cause was uncertain.

The vehicle pushed through a barrier of boulders between the parking lot and the harbor, and tumbled down the bank into the water.

Radke said that James Nelson, of the U.S. Forest Service, and Chris Guggenbickler were nearby and able to help the driver escape the truck before it completely submerged. The man was taken to Wrangell Medical Center. Bruce Smith was at the harbor when the accident happened and said he called 911, while also helping the driver escape the truck.

"He just drove right over, I couldn't believe what I was seeing," Smith said, adding he was surprised the truck floated above water for so long, giving them time to help the driver escape before the vehicle sank.

The truck was pulled from the harbor later that afternoon.

The Wrangell Medical Center could not comment on the man's condition or release his name, but Radke said it was his understanding he had been released and was doing OK.


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