The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

July 24, 2013

Sunbury woman and friend die after their minivan drives off a boat ramp into the ocean

ROQUE BLUFFS, Maine — In an sad twist of fate, a vacationing Sunbury resident and her friend drowned in a minivan submerged in the Atlantic Ocean hours after they were rescued while lost hiking in Maine.

Melissa Moyer, 38, and Amy Stiner, 37, of Machias, Maine, were found dead late Tuesday in a 2001 Dodge Caravan minivan 175 feet off the Roque Bluffs boat ramp on Schoppee Road.

Schoppee Road leads directly into the Atlantic Ocean, Washington County Sheriff Donnie Smith said Wednesday.

Moyer worked for the Shikellamy School District as a personal care aide and was stationed at Milton Area High School helping with alternative placement students, District Superintendent Pat Kelley said.

Moyer had been with Shikellamy since 2008.

One of the women inside the van called 911 to report the accident, that Stiner was five months pregnant and that they and a dog needed help immediately, police said.

During the conversation the cell phone connection stopped, leaving authorities in a frantic search for the women.

The 911 call was placed around 9 p.m. Tuesday. About one hour later, police were able to locate the van after receiving a ping from a cell phone tower, Smith said.

Conditions were foggy and rainy at the time of the accident, Smith said.

Earlier that day, the women called 911 after they reported they were lost while hiking in foggy Roque Bluffs State Park, a popular vacation spot, Smith said.

“We were able to locate them and the fire chief brought them to his house until the authorities came and got them back to their vehicle,” Smith said.

“From there we are pretty sure they made a wrong turn and drove directly into the ocean.”

Smith was not able to say how fast the minivan was traveling, but said the posted speed limit where the road ends is 20 mph.

The women apparently were returning to Stiner’s home, who Smith said moved to Machias about a year ago.

Hikers lost in fog

Smith said the first response for the lost hikers came from the Maine Warden Service, which contacted a nearby resident, Wayne Hanscom, the fire chief of Sunrise Search & Rescue, to assist.

Hanscom used an all-terrain vehicle to travel along the shore and found the women and the dog, Smith said.

Hanscom drove them to a nearby home, and wardens took them to their vehicle, which was parked in the state park.

The Roque Bluffs boat ramp is located about a half-mile west of the popular state park beach, next to a pier where summer residents of Roque Island park their vehicles while they are out on the island, Smith said.

The accident remains under investigation, Smith said.

Other vehicles have driven into the ocean off the ramp, Smith said, but there have never been any deaths related to the accidents.

Kelley, Shikellamy’s superintendent, said he wanted to extend his condolences to the family and friends of Moyer on behalf of the district.

“It is a sad and tragic situation,” Kelley said. “Melissa was a dedicated employee and I have had the pleasure of meeting her and she was a wonderful person.”

n Email comments to fscarcella@dailyitem.com.

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