By Joe Beck
A New Market man died early Saturday morning when his car plunged into the Shenandoah River and overturned.
State police said George Hambor, 46, drove a 1995 Volkswagen down a private driveway, crossed River Road and entered the river.
Sgt. F.L. (Les) Tyler said alcohol is being investigated as a possible factor in the accident. Hambor died at the scene, Tyler said.
Tyler said state police were called to the scene at about 1:50 a.m. and were assisted by the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office, New Market police, and fire and rescue personnel from the New Market and Orkney Springs departments. Mount Jackson also sent some of its members.
Fire and rescue crews led by Mike Gochenour of the Shenandoah County Department of Fire and Rescue pulled the partially submerged car from the water after their arrival.
Lt. Richard Funkhouser of the county fire and rescue department of Fire and Rescue said it is rare to pull a vehicle from the water outside of flooding..
Funkhouser said the rescue team called Orkney Springs for help after noticing a car 20 feet into the river. Orkney Springs sent its swift water rescue team, one of two in the county, and launched a boat into the water.
"I would say it was below freezing," Funkhouser said. "The guys wore their wet suits and dry suits. It was really, really cold."
Funkhouser said those in the boat immediately concluded that Hambor was dead after they reached his car.
Hambor traveled down a long driveway before crossing River Road, Funkhouser said.
"From the driveway to the river,it might have been 40 feet, and he went right into the river," Funkhouser said.
Funkhouser said Hambor drove between two trees, then plowed about a foot and a half swath into the river bank before the car hit the water.
"It had heavy front end damage," Funkhouser said of the Volkswagen. "If he had gone five or 10 feet the other way, he would have hit a tree. If he would have hit one of the trees, it would definitely have kept him out of the river."
Rescue personnel called a towing service that specializes in removing disabled tractor-trailers from roadways. The car, a convertible, was lying on its top with its wheels up and Hambor's body still inside as the swift water team attached it to the tow truck cables, Funkhouser said.
The truck used a boom to reach out over the water to pull the car to the river bank, he said.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org