Scottish trash collectors (or binmen, as they’re known over there) Derek Main and Gary Roberts were having a lunch break at Burghead harbor when they heard a loud revving noise followed by a huge splash. They ran to the edge of the breakwall and were shocked to see a woman and her dog trapped in a quickly-sinking car.
“We were at the harbor having our lunch,” Derek said. “We saw a person sitting in the car and we thought she was taking in the view, which is not unusual. “But suddenly there was an almighty revving sound and the car shot into the water.”
The men sprang into action: Derek ran to get ropes and Gary plunged into the water with an Irish bicyclist, only giving his name as “Paddy,”who said he was a lifeguard.
“Derek took his boots off, but I went straight in with all my gear on,” Gary explained. “I noticed there was a woman in the front seat holding a dog. I’d just reached the car when this Irish guy got the woman out of the driver’s seat. As he was pulling her to safety he shouted out that there was still a dog in the back of the car.
“At this stage the car was sinking and I didn’t think I’d be able to open the door because of the water pressure, but I just about managed it. A collie dog clambered out, but then it started swimming the wrong way out into the harbor. It was panicking and snarling at me, so after pushing it round the right way I decided to just let it make its own way back.”
“The woman was probably aged in her 50s. After she was brought out of the water, she started going on about how she had valuables in the car, so the Irish guy went back into the water,” Derek continued. “The car was completely submerged by then, but he dived down and managed to bring a couple of items back, including the dog’s pillow.
“The woman was quite shaken and shivering. She seemed to be suffering from shock. The whole incident was a scary thing to be involved in. We didn’t think about it at the time, but afterwards you realize just what a close thing it had been.”
“It was a close shave, if it hadn’t been for that other guy jumping in and helping, who knows what would have happened? The lady was very lucky,” Gary added.
Sarah Doonan, a local resident thinks the woman drove off the pier accidentally.
“It’s all a bit bizarre, but thankfully she’s okay,” Sarah said. “She seems to have just been sitting there looking out to sea and then somehow managed to press the accelerator by mistake and drove into the sea. She definitely didn’t mean to do it, as she said she had a lot of valuables and money in the car.”
Police and an ambulance arrived to the scene quickly, as did the village’s coastguard, who were able to winch the woman’s car up the slipway and onto dry land. The dog is believed to be recovering at a local boarding kennel.