Video: Car goes into the water off Alki Ave, driver survives

(video added 4:47 am, wrecked Porsche after it was pulled out of water and up over seawall)
ORIGINAL 2:32 AM REPORT: “Water rescue” call right now in the 1100 block of Harbor Alki Avenue. Here’s what we are hearing on the scanner: Somebody drove into the water and his car — a Porsche Carrera, unless what we are hearing on the scanner is a joke — is about six feet under; divers are going in to make sure the driver’s alone, which is what he has told them. More as we get it. 2:37 AM UPDATE: Divers have confirmed nobody’s in the submerged car. 3:10 AM UPDATE: We’re at the scene – the car really is a Porsche and really is less than 10 yards offshore, underwater; it went over the seawall in the condo zone.
(video added later, best shot we could get of the car, submerged:)

The driver’s been taken to the hospital – the medic unit passed us as we were arriving here about 20 minutes ago (TV crews are here too). Police have reopened the road; City Light’s also here because the car took out a power pole before going over the wall. Now police are strategizing with a tow crew how they’re going to get the car out. 3:54 AM UPDATE: Two police divers are in the water, where they will attach cables from a bigger tow truck that’s come in; we’re with TV crews awaiting the big pullout attempt – might be about 10 more minutes. If you’re seeing this “live,” KIRO does news at 4:30 am so that may be the first place you see video. Lt. Ron Smith has spoken with us at the scene, by the way, and says the driver, in his 50s, was taken to Harborview Medical Center for observation, and will be tested for possible intoxication. (Added later, clip from Lt. Smith’s briefing:)

(this clip also added later) Seattle Fire Department spokesperson Dana Vander Houwen was at the scene for a while too — she explains what SFD rescuers saw and did upon arrival:

4:24 AM UPDATE: The mangled Porsche is out. We’re on our way back to upload video from HQ. 4:59 AM UPDATE: Adding clips, as promised. Atop this post, it’s the car right after pullout; here, the last haul up over the wall:

Also added a few clips in the middle. To fill in one of the blanks: The car was heading north/eastbound on Alki when it “went straight where there’s a curve,” as Lt. Smith put it. As for the driver’s condition, no formal word, but as SFD’s Vander Houwen said, he did NOT have “life-threatening injuries.”

10:28 AM UPDATE: SPDBlotter has summarized the incident briefly with a few additional details: The driver was 54 and is described as having ultimately determined to have been “uninjured”; the item says, “Investigators believe drugs and/or alcohol in addition to speed may have contributed to the collision” (pending test results). Plus, specifics on the car: A 1991 Porsche 911.

11:09 AM NOTE: A comment recalls a deadly crash in the area a few years ago. To be specific – according to this brief item from WSB’s first year – 2 people were killed in September 2006 when their car went into the water across from 1238 Alki, less than a block west of this morning’s crash site.

38 Replies to "Video: Car goes into the water off Alki Ave, driver survives"

  • marty May 26, 2009 (2:36 am)

    No joke! I live on the 1300 block of Alki ave and a car went past heading south at about 2:15am. Heard what we thought was minor impact or going over the curb. The car was REALLY going fast at the time.

  • rockyraccoon May 26, 2009 (2:53 am)

    WSB, did you hear the Teddy Kennedy comment? Not PC, but pretty funny!

  • Mookie May 26, 2009 (3:06 am)

    Now they’re not sure tow trucks will be able to get the car out of the water; it’s about 30 feet past the retaining wall and under 10 feet of water… it might require a crane to retrieve it. The car took out a light pole or street sign (couldn’t quite make it out on the scanner) before launching into the drink; man he must have been FLYING! 58-year old male driver taken to Harborview Medical Center where the police are following up with a blood draw request. Any bets on alcohol being involved in this incident?!! What a maroon; he doesn’t deserve that Porsche.

  • WSB May 26, 2009 (3:21 am)

    We’re at the scene, hoping to catch the car getting pulled out of the water if it doesn’t take TOO long (we do have video of it underwater, thanks to TV people throwing strong light down there for a while, but we didn’t bring the cord to upload it – will have to wait till we’re back at HQ).
    Mookie, I’m scannerless now so let us know if you hear an ETA on the crane. Re: Alcohol – no one has confirmed this at the scene (although the only PIO who’s been here so far is intrepid SFD spokesperson Dana Vander Houwen, seen more than 12 hours earlier at the Arbor Heights fire) but scanner traffic at one point suggested this might have been someone police saw at an Alki bar earlier – TR

  • Cami May 26, 2009 (3:24 am)

    Tracy, someday you guys are going to need some sleep. :)

  • Mookie May 26, 2009 (3:54 am)

    I was away for about 10 minutes, but haven’t heard anything new on an ETA for a crane to assist with getting the car out of the water.

  • Mookie May 26, 2009 (4:55 am)

    I think you appeared on the Kiro news footage for a split second as you were video taping…opposite side of the car from the Kiro videographer as the car was being pulled up and out. :-)

    Seeing the car underwater was creepy. Glad no one was badly hurt.

  • WSB May 26, 2009 (4:59 am)

    Junior Member of the Team accompanied me to assist (he’s a night owl too) – he was in a striped shirt, me in gray fleece jacket. No fewer than four of the TV guys out there were people I worked with at my previous gigs (Harry and Brian from 13, Rick and Mark from 4), always a small world … More video added as we get it processed by YouTube or Blip, whichever works better … TR

  • traci May 26, 2009 (5:50 am)

    As always, you’re the first place I look for info about what woke me up! There were sooo many sirens last night.

  • kari May 26, 2009 (6:17 am)

    I live on Alki and that car woke me up by speeding so fast I couldnt believe my ears.I stood up and actually waited to hear it crash being that time of nite I assumed he was just leaving last call.Now I wake up and find this on the blog,crazy.Weve had more speeders lately on the beach especially right after leaving the construction area on 53rd heading towards Saltys.We need more speed traps please starting around Bonair St.

  • wseye May 26, 2009 (7:01 am)

    This isn’t the first time cars have gone into the water in this area, and people have died as a result. The bend in the road isn’t visible to a clown who decides to make an Alki speed run, and he wipes out into Elliot Bay. Unfortunately there is a trail between the road and the water and a pedestrian was killed two or three years ago. I believe a driver died as well on a separate occasion.

    In the past cars were allowed to park on the water side of Harbor/Alki in that area, and they provided both a visual cue to the bend, as well as protection for pedestrians on the trail. Some years ago the condo owners lobbied successfully to get that parking removed, and I think that aggravated the problem. I don’t have much sympathy for the dopes that decide to speed on Alki, but I do worry about the rest of us who become bowling pins.

  • Aa May 26, 2009 (7:52 am)

    As much as I loathe speed-bumps, I wonder if they might be advisable in some areas of Alki/Harbor Avenues. And “wseye” has a valid point, methinks, in that parking along that stretch may assist in re-creating a barrier between moving vehicles and pedestrians.

  • bridge to somewhere May 26, 2009 (7:58 am)

    a fool and his porsche are soon parted . . .

  • Krystal May 26, 2009 (8:02 am)

    Do you think he learned his lesson(s)? Slow down and don’t buy something that goes down in value so quickly?

  • Mr. JT May 26, 2009 (8:36 am)

    Do you think the guy had a “Risky Business” flashback ?

  • bridge to somewhere May 26, 2009 (8:37 am)

    @mr. jt: kudos for the “risky business” reference!

  • Christopher Boffoli May 26, 2009 (8:40 am)

    Wow, what a story! Surprising to see Lt. Smith out there so late. I hope the wannabe U-boat commander recovers from his injuries.

  • 56bricks May 26, 2009 (8:52 am)

    I lived on that curve 20 years ago and we had several instances where cars acted as a restraining wall to prevent submariners from doing their thing. One woman actually drove under a 3/4 pickup and launched it high enough to perch it on one of the short poles with it’s rear axle twisted parallel to the body. It slowed her just enough to where only her front wheels were hanging over the bulkhead. 2:15 AM again.

  • EvilC May 26, 2009 (8:54 am)

    I don’t feel any sympathy for this person.

    More police presence please.

  • AD May 26, 2009 (9:02 am)

    Was the Porsche dark blue in color? Had one speed by me in front of PCC earlier in the night…

  • Curious May 26, 2009 (9:16 am)

    Who is speaking off camera in the video footage? Curious about the individual claiming to be AP …

  • Admiral Janeway May 26, 2009 (9:31 am)

    I jogged by the site this morning. Can’t miss it because of the light pole on the ground. It’s unbelievable that someone survived after hitting the pole and landing in the water.
    If I remember correctly, a few years ago a car with 4 teens went into the water near this same place. Two managed to survive.

  • WSB May 26, 2009 (10:05 am)

    Curious, I don’t know his name, young man who said he was a freelancer though he did not have a camera or notebook, but I’ve seen him elsewhere.

  • 4th Generation Born-N-Raised May 26, 2009 (10:21 am)

    We’ll probably see the car for sale on Craigslist in a few weeks….”clean porsche”….

  • Worms Roxanne, I\'m afraid of worms. May 26, 2009 (11:30 am)

    Isn’t that the same place that the motorcycle killed the skateboarder and the place where the kids in the explorer died last year, or the year before? It seems like it is pretty easy to predict when there will be trouble on Alki. The first sunny weekends of the “season” are a good bet. I am suprised they don’t have a posted officer there for the obvious problem dates. Lucky somebody wasn’t taking there dog for late night walk.

  • WSB May 26, 2009 (11:34 am)

    I added a 2006 WSB link from the deadly car-in-water crash to the post above a little while ago; it in turn contains an inline link to the skateboarder crash.

  • CB May 26, 2009 (11:50 am)

    “Who’s the U-Boat commander?” (From Risky Business)

  • Christopher Boffoli May 26, 2009 (12:01 pm)

    AD: The car was indeed a dark blue Porsche Carrera 4.

    CB: First you steal my initials and now you’re stealing my movie quote too? :-)

    A Flickr stream of images from the site on the morning after:

  • beachdrivegirl May 26, 2009 (12:56 pm)

    Thanks for the link Christopher. :)

  • Lindsey May 26, 2009 (1:28 pm)

    Whoa! Just checked out Chris’s flickr photostream. I see you are shooting with the 5D! I guess neighborhood news is no small operation! Do you ever shoot video with it?

  • Michael May 26, 2009 (1:32 pm)

    54 years old, driving a 911. My guess is that someone will have quite a story to tell at his Microsoft management meeting next week…

  • christopherboffoli May 26, 2009 (1:50 pm)

    Lindsey: I cover stories for the WSB with both the Canon 1DM3 and 5DM2. (Nothing but the best for the West Seattle Blog!)
    The editors generally have to crunch the images down a bit to fit the page layout and so the pictures will load quickly for everyone. But I’ve begun to add Flickr streams from time to time in case readers want to click through for higher-resolution images. Likewise, the videos are re-sized and embedded so they work well on the site. But if you click through to the Vimeo page where they are hosted you can see them in 1280p high-definition.
    A few recent videos, shot with the Canon 5D Mark 2 can be seen at these links:

  • ScubaO2 May 26, 2009 (2:53 pm)

    I heard that car FLY by my house last night, it woke my neighbor above me and myself up. I’m on Alki Ave and Bonair – I’m glad he’s alive, but hope he’s charged criminally and held accountable.

  • miws May 26, 2009 (3:18 pm)

    One of many benefits that an internet media source such as WSB has over TV, or radio news, (of course the same thing could be said about other print media) is that while reading the article I can correctly “pronounce” Porsche in my head. (Por-SHUH, not Porsh, as many audio based newspeople pronounce it.)


    I don’t know why it bugs me so much. Maybe because a Porsche has been a long time dream car of mine. ;)



  • Curt May 26, 2009 (4:40 pm)

    Driving that train, high on cocaine,
    Casey jones is ready, watch your speed.

  • Jeannie May 26, 2009 (10:27 pm)

    Was Skyelar in the passenger seat?

  • WSB May 26, 2009 (10:40 pm)

    He was booked into jail from the Harbor Ave incident at 2:04 am, about 8 minutes before this happened, so that would have been a tough feat to pull off … TR

  • Caroline May 27, 2009 (9:14 am)

    I am concerned about the handsome pinetree that the guy may have seriously damaged when the street light pole crashed into it. DOES THE GUY HAVE TO PAY TO REPLACE AN ESTABLISHED TREE?


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