Car falls into Washington Channel

Photo courtesy of Tom Roussey

(WJLA) - A vehicle plunged into the Washington Channel and crashed into a boat in Southwest Washington on Wednesday.

It happened at the Capital Yacht Club near 7th Street and Maine Avenue.

The driver, who may have had a medical emergency, burst through two barriers and destroyed several sailboats before being taken to an area hospital.

Later on Wednesday, a crane was finally able to lift the Lexus out of the Washington Channel.

Mason Wilcox owns and lives on the boat the car slammed into, and he was at work at Coast Guard headquarters when it happened.

"I got several phone calls all at one time," he recalled. "I knew exactly what it was. Something happened to my boat."

But he was stunned when he saw exactly what had happened to his home.

Before falling into the Channel, the driver of the car smashed through a heavy iron fence and kept going from there.

Bill Trayfors was a witness who was with a group that ran to the car to help.

"We heard this just incredible noise," he said. "He said, you know, 'help me, help me,' while they were trying to cut him out."

As bad as the situation looks, boat owners here say the driver could not have landed in a better spot. Several sailboats helped break the fall, and a cable attached to the big boat kept the car from plunging completely into the frozen channel.

"If he had been this way about 40 or 50 feet, he would have been gone, he would have been in 20 feet of water," said Bill Trayfors.

Fortunately, Mason Wilcox says his boat can be repaired:

"It'll be fixed. It's just fiber glass and wood."

He's just happy the driver is expected to make it.

"Very much a miracle that everything was lined up in such a way that his life was spared."

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