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Thursday, March 21 , 2019, 11:23 am | A Few Clouds 56º

 
 
 
 

Tourist Escapes Serious Injury as Rental Car Plunges Off Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara

Authorities trying to figure out how to recover rental car from 20-25 feet of water

A tourist escaped injury Friday afternoon when he drove his rental car off of Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara. Click to view larger
A tourist escaped injury Friday afternoon when he drove his rental car off of Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara. (Urban HIkers / Noozhawk photo)

A tourist escaped serious injury Friday afternoon when he drove his car off of Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara.

The accident occurred at about 1:45 p.m. on the eastern side of the wharf, according to Battalion Chief Mike De Ponce of the Santa Barbara City Fire Department.

Witnesses told Noozhawk the vehicle was a rental car — a Volkswagen Passat — and the driver was a tourist from Chicago.

The male driver, who was the sole occupant, was able to get out of the vehicle and swim back to the wharf and climb back up to the top, De Ponce said.

He sustained minor injuries, including cuts and bruises from the airbag deployment, according to fire Engineeer Kevin Corbett.

“We’re trying to figure out how we’re going to remove the vehicle from the water,” De Ponce said, adding that the water in that area is 20-25 feet deep.

A small sheen was visible on the water in the area, presumably from vehicle fluids, and a city Harbor Patrol boat was laying out a boom to prevent it from spreading.

The U.S. Coast Guard was also called in to assist.

De Ponce said he didn’t know what caused the driver to end up in the water, although he speculated that he put the vehicle in drive instead of reverse as he was getting ready to leave.

There is only a 4-by-6-inch barrier in this location to prevent a vehicle from rolling forward, he said.

The wharf remained open for business, De Ponce said.

Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

An oil sheen is visible east of Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara on Friday after a tourist drove his rental car into the water. The man was not injured, and authorities were trying to figure out how to recover the vehicle. Click to view larger
An oil sheen is visible east of Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara on Friday after a tourist drove his rental car into the water. The man was not injured, and authorities were trying to figure out how to recover the vehicle. (Urban HIkers / Noozhawk photo)

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