ROQUE BLUFFS — Two women who had been lost while hiking and then rescued subsequently drove their minivan into Pond Cove and drowned, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.
Police identified the women as Amy Stiner, 37, of Machias, who was driving, and Melissa Moyer, 38, of Sunbury, Pa.
Sheriff Donnie Smith said Stiner and Moyer had known each other in Pennsylvania and that Stiner had moved to Machias a year ago.
“It was dark and rainy and foggy and all we can assume is that instead of going towards Machias they went the other way,” Smith said. “When you drive out the end of that road, Schoppe Point Road, the road becomes the boat ramp.”
He said the last call from the women came in about 9 p.m. and their van was found by rescuers at 10 p.m.
“They called 911 again and said they were in the water, the car was filled with water and then the phone went dead,” Smith said.
The Maine Warden Service had responded earlier Tuesday to a 911 call from the two women and their dog near the Roque Bluffs State Park hiking trails.
A nearby landowner, Wayne Hansom, who is a member of Sunrise Search & Rescue, volunteered to drive his all-terrain vehicle to the shoreline to look for the hikers.
He found them and took them to a shoreline residence, where the Maine Warden Service picked them up and returned them to their vehicle.
“The women started their vehicle and were last seen driving toward the road,” according to a statement issued by the Sheriff’s Office. “A short time later the Maine Warden Service received a call from dispatch that the women had called to say they had driven their vehicle into the water.”
The Sheriff’s Department said GPS coordinates from the cell phone placed the women almost a mile from where they were last seen.
The Maine Warden Service responded but could not locate the car or the two women.
Local fire departments along with deputies from the Sheriff’s Department, the Machias Police Department, the Maine Marine Patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard went to the scene.
“The vehicle was located underwater about 175 feet off the Pond Cove boat ramp,” the Sheriff’s Department said. “Both women were inside the vehicle.”
The Sheriff’s Department said the dog also drowned in the 2001 Dodge minivan.
Smith said authorities surmise the women were “cold, scared and wet and went the wrong way.”