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April 27, 2013

In Maine, GPS directs driver into deep water

En route to a job interview in Portland, a man must be rescued from a submerged Pontiac Grand Am in Lebanon.

By David Hench
Staff Writer

A Barrington, N.H., man who put a little too much faith in his GPS on the way to a job interview in Portland Friday morning ended up on top of his partially submerged car calling Lebanon Rescue for help.

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This photo provided by Lebanon Rescue shows the 2005 Pontiac Grand Am that got stuck Friday in a flooded section of Lord Road, which becomes impassable every spring.

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In this photo provided by Lebanon Rescue, a man who was trapped on the roof of his Pontiac Grand Am jumps into the bed of a Lebanon Rescue pickup truck.

The man, who is in his 20s, was driving at 9 a.m. on Lord Road, a shortcut through to Sanford -- or at least, that's what it showed on his GPS. He encountered a couple of areas of standing water covering the road, but made it through those without difficulty.

But then came a puddle that was a little deeper and his 2005 Pontiac Grand Am got stuck, with water pouring into it, said Lebanon Rescue Department Assistant Chief Jason Cole.

The man climbed out the car window and onto the roof as the water inside rose to the bottom of the steering wheel.

Two rescue workers donned cold-water suits and went to his aid. After determining the driver was not hurt, another rescue member backed up his pickup with the tailgate down, close enough so that the man could jump into the truck bed, Cole said.

This is not the first such episode -- by a long shot -- on that road.

"That's actually the fifth car I know of in the past three or four years," Cole said. "Every spring, and at times throughout the year, Lord Road is not passable. Every year a couple people try.

"For some reason all the GPS units show it as a through road, but it's a discontinued road.

"When I swam out to the vehicle, his GPS was on and I could see it actually told him to take that route."

Road crews have erected signs at the entrances to Lord Road from Little River Road and from Long Swamp Road indicating Lord Road is not a through road, but the driver did not see them. Cole did not identify the man.

"Fortunately no one was hurt," Cole said. "It appears the car is a total loss, but the driver was thankful that he was able to get out safely and that's what truly matters."

The car was towed out of the water at around 10:30 a.m. There was no word on whether the man made his job interview.

Staff Writer David Hench can be reached at: 791-6327

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