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Satnav plunges £96k Merc into river

Lucky escape for misguided woman driver

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The driver of a £96k Mercedes SL500 had a lucky escape after her satnav directed her down a winding track and straight into the River Sence in Sheepy Magna, Leicestershire, the Leicester Mercury reports.

The 28-year-old woman - apparently on her way to a Christening on 3 March - ignored signposts indicating the track was unsuitable for motor vehicles and gamely ploughed into the watercourse. Unfortunately, the river was "swollen after heavy rain in recent floods" and quickly overcame the Merc, "gushing through the car" and sweeping it 200 metres downstream "bouncing from one river bank to the other, as the woman frantically tried to smash the windows with her feet".

Eyewitness Alice Clark recounted: "I was in the field feeding the horses when I saw the car enter the river. I think she saw the water and tried to get through it by putting her foot down. Her car then just pinballed from one side to another and she was screaming for help and you could see she was trying to escape.

"She was trying to kick the windows in but she couldn't because she had trainers on. Then the windows opened and she squeezed through on to the top of the car. I managed to pull her to the bank. A short time later the car became completely submerged as it filled with water."

Clark's boyfriend took the victim, named "Hayley" and from London, to a motorway service station where, rather splendidly, she was collected by a chauffeur-driven Bentley. Clark later received a visit from Hayley's grateful parents, and chocs and flowers as a thank you.

As for the subaquatic Merc, it stayed in the river for a week until a tow truck could extricate it from its watery grave.

In disturbing related news, Italian tech outfit Il Village has developed "a GPS satellite system that will give blind people greater independence and mobility", according to the BBC. The "Easy Walk" system uses a "mobile phone that runs the Symbian operating system, a small Bluetooth GPS receiver, text to speech software called Talks...and a call centre that will operate around the clock seven days a week".

The system utilises just two keys on the phone - one which offers the user his or her exact location, and another which "alerts the call centre that the person needs assistance with navigation".

Easy Walk is currently being put through its paces by 30 members of the Italian Blind Union. Guinea pig Federico Borgna said: "Easy Walk is very important to help me to go to the places that I don't know. It gives me more confidence because I usually walk by myself but I have to know the way - Easy Walk helps me to go where I don't know the way."

Yes, we can all see where this is heading. A tenner says we'll be writing the headline "Satnav directs blind Italian into Milan brothel" before the year is out. ®

Bootnotes

Thanks to Natalie Johnson and Daniel Grout for the Merc and Easy Walk tip-offs, respectively.

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