When a salvage team pulled a Jeep from the bottom of a lake Monday, it had been there for more than a week. All the owner did was lend it to friends for a sight-seeing trip in Vermont, who, according to USA Today, said Google’s Waze GPS app instructed them to drive off of a boat launch and into Lake Champlain.
USA Today reports that the driver and two passengers didn’t realize what was happening until they’d slid onto the frozen lake. All of the Jeep’s passengers got out safely.
The story said the vehicle’s owner, Tara Guertin, claimed she thought the GPS instruction was a fluke until she tried a route on the crowd-sourced navigation app, which updates in real time based on other drivers’ conditions. She got instructed to drive into the lake as well, she said. A Google spokesperson told USA Today the company was glad everyone was safe, but that Waze couldn’t explain how the car ended up in a lake.
“Wait,” you say to yourself, hoping no one around you hears. “Have we become so dependent on navigation that people just drive into lakes nowadays, without looking at the road (or lack thereof)?”
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No. Apparently, it was rainy and dark outside, along with a heavy fog and a poorly lit boat launch. Guertin told USA Today her friends were already 100 feet onto the frozen lake before they noticed where they were, and that they climbed out through the driver’s window after water started coming in through the door.
Watching her tell the story to USA Today and seeing the crew pull out the Jeep, which looks like 2011-era Compass, is wild:
Waze isn’t quite sure what to make of it all, via USA Today:
“It’s impossible to comment here without seeing the user’s driving file and we haven’t received permission to do so- generally speaking, Waze maps are updated with millions of edits to adapt to real time road conditions daily, often making them the most accurate available,” she said via email.
She added that the company encourages “drivers to keep their eyes on the road and use all environmental information available to them to make the best decisions as they drive.”
The police chief in Burlington, Vermont, Brandon del Pozo, told USA Today that the people in the car hadn’t been charged or cited. The driver said he had one beer at a nearby brewery and agreed to sobriety tests, according to the story, and an officer said he didn’t think the driver was intoxicated.
According to a police report cited by USA Today, the Jeep sunk to its sad, watery, semi-avoidable death on Jan. 12. It spent 10 days in the lake before the salvage crew recovered it, along with some of the craft beer Guertin’s friends bought.