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Wasn’t there an elderly couple who drove into the Cape Fear River years ago and drowned?

Gareth McGrath

A Lincoln is pulled from the Cape Fear River around 2 a.m. Sunday morning after an elderly couple plummeted into the river and died. StarNews file photo.


Here’s a story by Gareth McGrath that was published in the StarNews on May 17, 200o:

A Washington, D.C., man who drowned after driving his car into the Cape Fear River last month was legally drunk at the time of the accident.

Toxicology tests showed Paul Posner, 70, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.12 percent when he drowned, said Dr. Charles Garrett, a medical examiner in Jacksonville who performed an autopsy on Mr. Posner.

Anyone driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher is considered under the influence of alcohol under North Carolina law.

But Dr. Garrett said there was no way to know if drinking was the cause of the accident.

“The autopsy report will show that he died from drowning and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.12,” he said. “But it’s not the autopsy report’s job to determine why he went into the river.”

Dr. Garrett said the autopsy report also showed Mr. Posner had been suffering from severe coronary disease, but not to have suffered a heart attack or other health problem before the accident.

Mr. Posner’s wife, Doris, also drowned in the incident.

Dr. Garrett said test results on Mrs. Posner, 69, weren’t back yet from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Chapel Hill.

The Posners drowned around 11 p.m. April 15 when their white Lincoln Continental suddenly speeded up while in the parking lot of the Hilton Wilmington Riverside.

It then traveled over a shrub-covered median between the Coast Guard and Hilton parking lots, made a sudden right turn – narrowly missing a brick wall and several large bollards – and drove over the Riverwalk into the Cape Fear River where the Coast Guard cutter Diligence is normally moored.

Several passersby who saw the car careen into the river jumped in to try and help the Posners, but were unsuccessful.

Emergency crews battling darkness and swift currents took more than three hours to recover the bodies and the vehicle from the murky, 38-foot-deep water.

Officials said the Posners were returning to the Hilton from a friend’s funeral when the incident occurred.

The incident is still being classified as an accident by the Wilmington Police Department.

“There’s not much we can tell you right now,” said Capt. J.L. Yost Tuesday, “but we still have no indication that it was anything but an accident.”

After retrieving the Lincoln, police officials had it tested for mechanical problems but found nothing abnormal, Capt. Yost said.

“We looked it over for any obvious things, but there wasn’t anything there,” he said.


What caused the death of a diver in May 2010 off the coast of Carolina Beach?

Was there an airplane crash at an Azalea Festival?



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