Car plunges into Pictou Harbour after brakes fail
Published Wednesday, July 18, 2012 6:14PM ADT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 18, 2012 6:51PM ADT
A Pictou, N.S. couple is still shaking after the brakes on their car failed, causing them to plummet down the steepest street in town and crash into Pictou Harbour.
Steven Duplessis says he and his girlfriend were driving down Constitution Street – one of the steepest streets in the Maritimes – around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when the nightmare began.
“I tried to put my brakes on and nothing,” says Duplessis. “So it kept going and going and going and I was like ‘what are we gonna do? What are we gonna do?”
The car was careening downhill and headed for the downtown core at what Duplessis estimates to be around 80 kilometres per hour.
Filled with panic, his girlfriend considered jumping out, but instead tried another strategy.
“I stuck my foot out the car and tried to slow it down for some reason,” says Cathy Hemmings. “I don’t know why I’d do that!”
As they reached Water Street, with the car horn blaring, Duplessis was able to make a sharp left, then right turn, avoiding a store and instead directing them towards the harbour.
“It was a last decision. It was either whip it and roll it, or jump into the harbour,” says Duplessis. “Because I knew I was going at a speed so quick, I couldn’t have turned or I would have started rolling and we would have got hurt more.”
The car ended up crashing through a heavy chain fence and took out four iron posts at the Hector Heritage Quay, narrowly missing the famous Ship Hector.
It came to rest along the harbour shoreline, which was fortunately at low tide.
“I hit the water and I unbuckled my seatbelt and I got thrown out of the car and went underwater and I just come back up,” describes Hemmings.
“I didn’t get a scratch. Not a scratch,” says Duplessis. “I didn’t even get my shorts wet.”
Hemmings has a bruised foot and some scratches on her leg from putting her foot out the car door – seemingly minor injuries to sustain in a major crash.
The couple says they are amazed at their good fortune, as are area residents.
“Basically, even sounding the horn, it may not have alerted people, so it was just good fortune that nothing tragic occurred,” says Pictou RCMP Sgt. Phil Oliver.
Concrete barriers were installed Wednesday to replace the wooden barricades that once stood at the crash site, and Duplessis says he is hoping to get a replacement vehicle just as quickly.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Dan MacIntosh