George Lewis had a flight to catch, and he was waiting outside when his ride arrived early Sunday morning.
The South end resident had business in Dallas. As usual, he had arranged for a Metropolitan Town Car limousine from Bellevue to pick him up.
The normal routine quickly became one quite out of the ordinary just before 7:30 a.m., Feb. 3, when the driver of the limousine changed his mind about proceeding down the long driveway and stopped, worried that it would be too steep to drive back up. In the police report, the driveway is described as a 45-degree incline, in the 7700 block of West Mercer Way.
It was too late, however, to turn back.
"I heard a roar — a big roar of the motor," said Lewis, who had almost walked up to the vehicle a moment before. "I looked, and he just whizzed right by me, full speed — never even touched the brake, and just whizzed off the end of the parking area, mid-air, and flipped upside down on the beach."
The Lincoln-Continental town car vaulted off of a concrete pad, a parking area at the base of the driveway, and went over the embankment. Overturning, the vehicle landed on its roof in a clump of underbrush against a tree, 30 feet from the lake.
A fire department aid unit responded to the scene, but the 30-year-old driver was able to crawl out of the vehicle and was not injured. A Lynnwood resident, he said that he shifted into reverse on the steepest part of the driveway, the car rolled forward and he tried to brake.
The driveway was wet at the time, but police found no tire marks.
The town car landed on city property, 25 feet below the concrete pad and 45 feet beyond it. No airbags deployed and the gear was set in 'park.' A concrete vault box and sewer cover — a pumping station — are located between the vehicle and the lake. A barge and a crane will be required to remove the vehicle. It did not initially appear to be leaking any fluids.
"The towing company came out and they looked over the edge, and said it's got to get barged off," Lewis said.
Metropolitan Town Car was to coordinate the vehicle's removal with its insurance company and the City of Mercer Island. The company is also known as Limousine International and Metropolitan Town Car-Seattle Limo.
"They come to my house all the time," Lewis said. "It was a new driver … he was a guy from a foreign country."
A neighbor drove Lewis to the airport. He did not miss his flight.