The bodies of two women were found in their car in waters off Roque Bluffs on Tuesday, July 23, after being the objects of two searches that day.
Amy Stiner, 37, of Machias and Melissa Moyer, 38, of Sunbury, Pa., drowned after Stiner drove her 2001 Dodge Caravan minivan off the end of the steep Pond Cove boat ramp into the ocean at approximately 9 p.m. "They called 911 in Orono to say that the car was filling up with water, and then the phone went dead," says Washington County Sheriff Donnie Smith. Following the GPS coordinates from the phone, law enforcement agencies were finally able to locate the car at around 10 p.m. -- 175 feet from shore.
"It's very confusing when you're driving in that area, especially in the dark in fog and rain," points out Smith about the Schoppee Point Road. "The road ends suddenly. I'm assuming the car floated for a while before it sank, but I don't know for sure. We've had this happen before but not fatally."
Smith says Stiner was five months pregnant, and a dog was also in the vehicle.
Earlier in the day, the Maine Warden Service responded to a search for Stiner and Moyer, who had become lost near the Roque Bluffs State Park hiking trails. Wayne Hanscom, a nearby landowner who is a firefighter and a member of Sunrise Search and Rescue, was contacted by the warden service and volunteered to drive his ATV down to the shoreline in an attempt to locate the women. Shortly before wardens arrived at the scene, Hanscom called to advise he had found the two women and their dog. He gave each of the women rides to Nils Eliason's residence on the shore of Clay Point Road, where the wardens picked them up and transported them back to their vehicle, which was parked at the state park.
The women started their vehicle and were last seen driving toward the road. A short time later, the Maine Warden Service received a call from dispatch that the women had called to say they had driven their vehicle into the water.
Assisting the Maine Warden Service in the second search were local fire departments and deputies from the Washington County Sheriff's Department, Machias Police Department, Maine Marine Patrol and U.S. Coast Guard.
Stiner and her husband Gregg had moved two years ago from Pennsylvania to Machias, according to another newspaper. They began organic farming, raising dairy heifers and chickens, as a satellite operation for Tide Mill Farm in Edmunds.
How to exit a sinking car
ABC News has issued a short video on the immediate steps that need to be taken if you are in a car that is sinking. The demonstration performed by professional safety experts shows the importance of the first 30 to 60 seconds of action as critical to getting out of a car. Doors will not open when even partially submerged because of water pressure. Roll down the windows and get out. Most car windows are now controlled by electrical systems, which will fail once the car begins to submerge. The video stressed the importance of carrying in the car a small tool that can break car glass easily so that the passengers are able to push the glass out and make their escape. The video link is <abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/car‑sinking‑water‑seconds‑react‑18810014>.