CAPUTH, Germany, Dec. 27 -- German newspapers and television report on a Christmas day auto accident in Caputh, which has police shaking their heads in puzzlement. A German motorist apparently following instructions from his car dashboard satellite-guided navigation system drove his BMW into the Havel River plunging vehicle and passengers 13 feet under water.
The news reports today did not name the 57-year-old man, but described him as oblivious to warnings from passengers, passers-by and flashing red lights that there was river in front of him. The driver from Hamburg unhesitatingly continued on his journey, past a stop sign, down a ferry ramp and then into the Havel. Germany's ZDF television channel says the BMW sank slowly in about 13 feet of water while driver and passengers were snatched safely from the river. However, ship traffic on the river was stopped for two hours while divers fished out his car. ZDF television interviewed a coastguardsman who said 'You can't always blindly rely on technology,' with unusual Teutonic restraint. Police say the accident took place when the couple and a friend went out for a drive and came to Caputh in eastern Germany, where a ferry operates across the river. Police investigating the mishap say a crucial piece of information was not stored in the satellite-steered navigation system of their BMW. The BMW's map showed the presence of a bridge when it should have indicated a ferry. The satellite accurately indicated the car's precise position, but signaled it could cross on a bridge. Police say the driver placed his complete faith on the electronic system and drove straight into the water. ---NEWLN:Copyright 1998 by United Press International.NEWLN:All rights reserved.NEWLN:---