By Timothy Hurley
Maui Advertiser Bureau
Maalaea, Maui Four elderly tourists emerged from the waters of Maalaea Harbor wet but unharmed yesterday after their rented Lincoln Town Car skipped over a railroad tie and plunged into the murky drink.
With harbor water rushing into the car, all four passengers two couples in their late 60s and 70s from Richmond, Va. swam to shore safely after the 5:45 p.m. incident. The champagne-colored luxury car, meanwhile, sank 10 feet to the bottom of the small-boat harbor.
"Ill have nightmares about this," said 67-year-old Virginia Baldacci, who was drying off in the Maalaea Coast Guard Station. "This is something you see in the movies. This is something you dont do. Im not sure Im going to tell anyone about this."
The couples, in the second week of their vacation, had driven to Hana earlier in the day, stopping at the grave of aviator Charles Lindbergh, and had decided to stop by Maalaea on the way back to their West Maui hotel.
They not only wanted to see the boats in the harbor but, oddly enough, take a look at the Coast Guard Station. Baldacci and her husband, Raymond, 70, are both members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary in Virginia.
As 77-year-old Frank Jennings pulled up to the waters edge, he said, he thought he was applying the brakes but stepped on the accelerator instead, driving the vehicle over the parking barrier and into the water.
While the women in the back seat were able to open their doors and swim to safety, the men in the front seat hesitated, then eased through the windows as the water gushed in and car was sinking fast.
Meanwhile, Maalaea resident Demetrios Xenos, 23, dived into the water to help. He and another witness, Robert Roberts of Kihei, ended up pulling the couples waterlogged belongings from the car. Maui Fire Department divers also helped retrieve items.
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