Diver Lance Parker steers the Toyota Hilander as it’s being towed from the Near Island Channel Saturday evening. Jay Barrett Photo
In what could be a replication of uncontrolled acceleration problems with Toyota cars elsewhere in the United States, a Toyota Highlander Hybrid jumped the curb at the Kodiak Spit and plunged into about 20-feet of water in the Near Island Channel on Saturday afternoon. Witnesses said it appeared the driver was unable to stop the mid-sized SUV before it went over the embankment.
The driver was identified by Kodiak Police as 29-year-old Michelle Roberts. Chief T.C. Kamai said she apparently escaped through an open window before the car sank, and Harbormaster Marty Owen said a passing boat from Camp Woody picked her up. Kamai said she was taken to Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center and treated for minor injuries including possible hypothermia.
Kamai said no citations were issued in the incident and the investigation into the cause is continuing.
A large crowd watched the recovery of the car from the spit Saturday evening, and a small boat from the Harbor Patrol stood by just off shore during the operation:
— (Car 1 18 sec "You know when there’s anything … Pacific Diving Services.")
Soon after he got out of the water, commercial diver Lance Parker told KMXT’s Jay Barrett the operation went fairly smoothly after one tow line snapped:
— (Car 2 30 sec "Well, that wasn’t cable, that was … when it’s successful.")
Parker was assisted underwater by a diver with the Alaska State Troopers.
The Toyota jumped the curb not far from the gazebo, and crashed through a park bench before going down the rocky embankment.
Kodiak Fire Department personnel sopped up a light petroleum sheen from the gravel boat ramp with sorbent pads after the car was towed away. The Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment responded and reported no adverse environmental affects from the car’s sinking.