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Contact: Pete Reinhardt, 541-594-3056
Contact: Marsha McCabe, 541-594-3091
The 2003 Volkswagen Passat that tumbled to the shore of Crater Lake last Saturday evening was only the second automobile to ever do so. (This is a correction from the previous press release that stated the vehicle was a 1993 Volkswagen Passat.) The last auto mishap of this kind occurred in October 1922 when a brand new Lincoln belonging to a couple from Klamath Falls, Oregon rolled over the rim of Crater Lake near the present day location of the Sinnott Memorial Overlook in Rim Village.
Shauna McHugh and Tobias Swanson from Ashland, Oregon were enjoying the view from an overlook near North Junction at Crater Lake National Park when their vehicle rolled into the caldera on the evening of September 11, 2010. Further investigation indicates that the vehicle rolled backwards in an arc across the parking area for approximately 100 feet, through a narrow opening between the rock wall and a clump of trees and finally over the edge of the caldera, plunging more that 1,100 feet until it came to rest in 10 to 30 feet of water on the edge of Crater Lake. The accident was reported by a call to 911.
McHugh's dog, Haley, was in the vehicle at the time of the accident. The pet was ejected through the sunroof of the falling vehicle. It took the dog approximately 15 minutes to make her way back up approximately 600 feet of talus slope to her owner with only minor injuries. Haley is a Dingo-Akita mix.
Clean up and recovery of the personal items and vehicle parts following this incident will be very challenging due to steep elevations, loose talus slopes, and limited lake access. Removal of the items will be at least a two phase process beginning with a helicopter operation currently scheduled for next week -- weather permitting. The second phase will most likely require personnel experienced in high angle recovery. Protecting the pristine nature of the lake is of the highest priority.
Park visitors are reminded to always place their vehicles in "park" and set the emergency brake before exiting their vehicles along the scenic overlooks. Please keep hold of children and pets and enjoy the beautiful views of the lake from behind rocks walls and wooden railings.