PAWCATUCK — After using sonar to scan the Pawcatuck River from below the Route 1 bridge to the northern border of River Bend Cemetery on Thursday, Connecticut State Police were unable to locate a car that plunged into the river as the result of an accident early Tuesday morning.
The search ended about 1.6 miles past the Bridge Restaurant, stopping about halfway between Duck Island and Gayitt Point, according to state police.
“The fact is the state police have the tools and technology to find the car, but they were unable to find it,” Stonington Police Capt. Todd Olson said Thursday. “They used sonar on the entire area where it could have been in the river and they found tires, all kinds of things with the sonar, except for the car, unfortunately.”
The gray 2007 Saab sedan entered the water early Tuesday just after 12:15 a.m., when the operator, Andreas Berry Barbero, 23, of Providence, drove off Coggswell Street into the Pawcatuck River behind the Malted Barley. Barbero was saved by Kyle Driscoll, a bartender at the Malted Barley, who jumped into the icy river after he heard the crash. Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey said Wednesday that if Driscoll hadn’t jumped in to help Barbero, it was likely he wouldn’t have survived.
The cost of recovering the car is up to Barbero’s insurance company, said Olson.
“The bottom line is, does the insurance company want to pay for a recovery company to come out and dredge and drag the Sandy Point area? Maybe, maybe not,” he said. “The costs of recovery of the car will ultimately be covered by the car’s insurance company and the challenge is to find out where it went.”
Olson said the Connecticut State Police had been confident they would find the car and were surprised when they couldn’t locate it.
“They did the edges and they went back and forth and back and forth, scanning, and they exhausted every part of the area,” Olson said. “We appreciate the hard work of the Connecticut State Police because they always help us, and unfortunately it didn’t pan out the way we hoped it would.”
Olson said Stonington Police were in communication with the state police, the Coast Guard and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to find out if there were any other options to locate the car.
“We’re going to sit down (today) and regroup and see if there are any other options to find the car, and if there aren’t, we aren’t going to be able to find the car,” he said.