Suspected DUI motorist crashes into Berkeley marina

Car into Berkeley Marina. Photo: Nancy Schimmelman
A suspected DUI motorist crashed into the Berkeley Marina late Saturday night. Photo: Nancy Schimmelman

Authorities worked to beat the tide Sunday to remove a vehicle that crashed Saturday night into the Berkeley Marina and began leaking fluids into the water.

Berkeley Police Lt. Andrew Rateaver said crews responded to the marina after a vehicle left the roadway, where University Avenue and Marina Boulevard split, shortly before midnight.

Scroll down for updates and dramatic photos.

Officers threw emergency flotation devices into the water to help the driver, a passenger and a citizen responder get off the fully submerged vehicle, he said.


All three were taken to the hospital for treatment but were expected to survive.

Authorities are working to remove the vehicle before the tide comes in. Photo: BPD
Authorities are working to remove the vehicle before the tide comes in. Photo: BPD

The driver was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, and the investigation is ongoing.

The driver’s name was not immediately available.

Rateaver said Sunday afternoon that the vehicle was leaking fluids, causing a localized hazardous materials incident.

“Along with Berkeley Marina harbormaster staff, Berkeley Fire and Police are working to mitigate the situation and remove the vehicle with minimal impact,” he said.


He described the operation as time sensitive.

“Low tide has exposed the vehicle,” he said shortly after noon. “Crews are working to remove the vehicle in a minimum impact way.”

Local resident Nancy Schimmelman was in the area Sunday watching the vehicle removal efforts. She told Berkeleyside she saw “wheel marks coming along University” westbound, crossing the sidewalk, going across the grass and through a fence.

The vehicle was upside down in the water. (Scroll down for updates.)

The vehicle is leaking gasoline into the marina. Photos: BPD
The vehicle is leaking gasoline into the marina. Photos: BPD
The damaged fence. Photo: Nancy Schimmelman
The damaged fence. Photo: Nancy Schimmelman

Update, 1:10 p.m. Schimmelman reported shortly before 1 p.m. that authorities had managed to get the vehicle out of the water.


“BPD, BFD, Marina staff, East Bay Tow & Recovery collaborated to pull the Lexus out over the rocks, carefully between the trees, and up onto the sidewalk. BFD even shoveled and raked back the dirt dislodged onto the sidewalks by the extraction process. BFD and Marina staff collected car parts from the water, crash, and extraction path.”

The new waterfront manager for the city was on the scene, keeping an eye on the operation and thanking various agencies for their help.

One neighbor told Schimmelman it wasn’t the first vehicle that had ended up in the water over the years. In the 1990s, one driver who crashed into the water tried to back out. At least two others have driven over the sidewalk into the marina over the years.

Update, 1:30 p.m. Another neighbor, Kaye Sankey, who lives on a sailboat about 50 yards from the car crash, was awoken Saturday night by the sound of the Lexus going into the water. She heard a woman yelling that the water was cold and that she couldn’t swim, so Sankey called 911.

Two people on bikes were in the area, and one jumped in the water to help out. They also called 911.

Update, 1:56 p.m. Sankey’s daughter, Chelsea Rose Pires, was awake Saturday night breastfeeding her son on her parents’ boat when the crash happened. She and her husband, Alex, were visiting from Grass Valley for Easter weekend.

Pires described the sound of the crash as “enormous” and said it frightened her because she wasn’t sure about the cause, or if something was about to hit the boat. She woke Alex, and they heard a woman yelling that she couldn’t swim. Another person outside responded to ask: “Are you OK?”

They rushed outside to find a couple on bicycles who were already helping out. Pires said first responders got to the scene quickly; some of them were already wearing wetsuits.

“It was amazing, their response time,” she said. Pires said the female passenger seemed to be all right once out of the water, but that the man was disoriented and having trouble standing.

Initially, she said, it was high tide when the vehicle went into the water. It was resting on one side until the tide went down, when it ended up upside down.

The driver managed to miss a power box on the left and trees on the right. The brake marks extend for about 30 feet, she said. Pires described the area where the car went into the water as a rocky 10-foot gradient.

“It’s quite a big drop,” she said. “It’s amazing they got out.”

Car into Berkeley Marina. Photo: Nancy Schimmelman
Authorities worked to remove the car from the Berkeley Marina on Sunday afternoon. Photo: Nancy Schimmelman
Authorities worked to remove the car from the Berkeley Marina on Sunday afternoon.
Authorities worked to remove the car from the Berkeley Marina on Sunday afternoon. Photo: Nancy Schimmelman
Authorities worked to remove the car from the Berkeley Marina on Sunday afternoon.
Authorities worked to remove the car from the Berkeley Marina on Sunday afternoon. Photo: Nancy Schimmelman
Authorities worked to remove the car from the Berkeley Marina on Sunday afternoon.
Authorities worked to remove the car from the Berkeley Marina on Sunday afternoon. Photo: Nancy Schimmelman

 

Car into Berkeley Marina. Photo: Nancy Schimmelman
This car crashed into the Berkeley Marina late Saturday. Photo: Nancy Schimmelman
This car crashed into the Berkeley Marina late Saturday. Photo: BPD
This car crashed into the Berkeley Marina late Saturday. Photo: BPD
Car into Berkeley Marina. Photo: Nancy Schimmelman
Firefighters clean up debris at the Berkeley Marina. Photo: Nancy Schimmelman

This story was updated after publication due to the developing nature of the incident.

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