Car takes polar bear plunge into Mineral Creek Monday
Hikers return to find Volkswagen bug in the middle of rushing stream
Photo courtesy Mustafa Kaymak
VPD officer Jess Gondek watches as the Beetle is retrieved from Mineral Creek.
A holiday hike turned into a river rescue for a car Monday.
The saga began shortly after noon on the Fourth of July after Valdez man Mustafa Kaymak, age 31, decided to go out for a walk on Mineral Creek, only to see the car he shares with his wife Janette roll off of a cliff and into the turbulent water below.
"Oh my God that's my car!" he quoted himself as saying when he and his friend, Okan Birinci, age 31, saw the bright blue Volkswagen Beetle rolling perilously towards the edge of the cliff.
"It went backwards into the river," Kaymak exclaimed in a telephonic interview Tuesday morning, obviously still shaken after witnessing the bug's dramatic tumble. "I ran behind it and tried to stop it."
Unfortunately, Kaymak says he was a good 30 feet behind the car and was unable to close the gap before it tumbled another 20-30 feet into Mineral Creek.
Birinci was the first to spot the runaway bug.
"My friend Okan yelled," Kaymak said. "We could not believe it was happening."
While still a bit shaken from the incident, Kaymak says there were no injuries to people or remarkably, body damage to the car, a 1999 model.
"It fell off the cliff and didn't hit a rock at all," he said, explaining that there were several large boulders in the car's path that could have easily smashed it to smithereens.
The car was later pulled out of the waters and towed to a mechanic.
"It's at Mark's Repair awaiting the verdict," Kaymak said in an email shortly after the incident.
He is unsure how the mishap occurred.
"The shoulder of the cliff was so soft from the rain and
maybe the emergency brake wasn't working properly," he said in the same email.
Kaymak is currently studying film at Columbia University. He and wife Janette, former owner of Klondike Coffee, still return to Valdez every summer after both enrolled in schools in New York.
Birinci, a close friend of Kaymak, is a student in Italy and is visiting Valdez. He has worked summers in Valdez for several years.