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Maine hikers drive to ocean deaths after being rescued

Lost Hikers Fatal_Cham.jpg

July 23, 2013: Rescue diver Travis Preston, a Jonesboro, Maine firefighter, hooks up a minivan in the water on the boat ramp at the scene of the double fatal accident in Roque Bluffs, Maine.

A pregnant Maine woman and her friend visiting from Pennsylvania who had been rescued after getting lost hiking died when they accidentally drove their minivan off a boat ramp and into the ocean, authorities said.

Amy Stiner, 37, of Machias, and Melissa Moyer, 38, of Sunbury, Pa., presumably drowned when Stiner drove her car down the boat ramp at the end of a dead-end road at about 9 p.m. Tuesday in this town of 300 people in eastern Maine, said Washington County Sheriff Donnie Smith.

Smith called the deaths a tragic accident made worse because Stiner was five months pregnant. The two were found in the back of the minivan likely due to the fact it sank from the front, The Bangor Daily News reported. A dog was also found dead inside the minivan.

"They called on the phone that they were in the water and the car was filling up. Then the phone went dead," Smith said. "An hour later, the deputies found the car."

Earlier in the evening, the women got lost while hiking in Roque Bluffs State Park amid fog and a steady downpour, the Portland Press Herald reported.

An off-duty firefighter found them and their dog and gave them rides on his ATV back to his house, where a warden picked them up and brought them to the 2001 Dodge Caravan.

Stiner then drove toward the boat ramp instead of in the other direction to Machias, Smith said. Weather could have contributed to the accident, Smith said.

"It appears they went the wrong direction and drove off the ramp," he said. "If you don't know the area, in the fog and rain it wouldn't be a difficult thing to do."

Authorities found the submerged car about 175 feet off the boat ramp, the women and the dog inside with the doors closed and the windows up.

The Portland Press Herald reported that the women were able to call 911 as the car was entering the water.

"They said they were in the water and the car was filling with the water. And then the phone just went dead," Washington County Sheriff Donnie Smith told the newspaper.

Smith said blood tests will be conducted on the bodies but he did not suspect alcohol or drugs contributed to the fatal accident.

Gregg Stiner, Amy’s husband, told the Bangor Daily News that the two are organic farmers. He did not comment any further in the interview.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Click here for more from the Portland Press Herald.

Click for more from The Bangor Daily News

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