‘Driverless’ van ploughs through railings and plunges into the sea

15/9/11 Edinburgh. A white transit van which drove into Newhaven Harbour being lifted out by a massive crane. The van driver has yet be be located. Forensic divers checking the harbour.
15/9/11 Edinburgh. A white transit van which drove into Newhaven Harbour being lifted out by a massive crane. The van driver has yet be be located. Forensic divers checking the harbour.
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POLICE are still trying to work out how a speeding van ended up in the sea at Newhaven Harbour sparking a huge rescue operation.

The white Ford Transit ploughed through two iron railings before plunging into the sea at 6.25am yesterday.

15/9/11 Edinburgh. A white transit van which drove into Newhaven Harbour being lifted out by a massive crane. The van driver has yet be be located.

15/9/11 Edinburgh. A white transit van which drove into Newhaven Harbour being lifted out by a massive crane. The van driver has yet be be located.

A rescue operation was launched immediately to search for casualties who may have been trapped inside, but the van was found to be empty.

A team of divers from Central Scotland Constabulary also later scoured the harbour mouth for anyone that may have been trapped in the mud.

Police have so far made no arrests and no-one with injuries which could be linked to the incident has been admitted to hospital. It is not known if the van was stolen.

Inspector Euan Smith said: “Someone has either been driving at speed or has unfortunately veered from the carriageway and crashed into the barrier.

15/9/11 Edinburgh. A white transit van which drove into Newhaven Harbour being lifted out by a massive crane. The van driver has yet be be located.

15/9/11 Edinburgh. A white transit van which drove into Newhaven Harbour being lifted out by a massive crane. The van driver has yet be be located.

“It would not be unreasonable to expect that an individual would come forward if it had been a genuine accident so there is maybe some suggestion of criminality involved.”

A police spokeswoman said there were a “few different theories” to explain how the van nose-dived into the water but there had been no conclusion. Police had not been in pursuit of the van.

The van is thought to have hit the water at high tide and would only have fallen a few metres. However, a crane later hoisted it around 20ft from the sea bed once the water had ebbed away. It appeared to have sustained only minor damage to the bonnet, although a section of iron railing was still jammed into its bumper.

Witnesses to the immediate aftermath of the incident said only the roof of the van had been visible until the tide turned.

Photograph by PHIL WILKINSON / TSPL copyright 'Tel +44 (0) 7740444373''EN PICS.'NEWHAVEN HARBOUR , EDINBURGH.''A CRANE IS BROUGHT IN AS ROADS ARE CLOSED TO RECOVER A WHITE VAN WHICH CRASHED INTO THE HARBOUR WATER THIS MORNING.

Photograph by PHIL WILKINSON / TSPL copyright 'Tel +44 (0) 7740444373''EN PICS.'NEWHAVEN HARBOUR , EDINBURGH.''A CRANE IS BROUGHT IN AS ROADS ARE CLOSED TO RECOVER A WHITE VAN WHICH CRASHED INTO THE HARBOUR WATER THIS MORNING.

A local fishmonger at the harbour said he could only make out the top of the van in the murky water in the minutes after it hit.

Resident Frank Ferri added: “At first I thought the driver had been taken away in an ambulance, now it seems he has done a runner.

“Whoever it was must have been soaking wet and covered in mud so how he managed to slip away with no- one seeing is remarkable.

“The road here is usually very busy but at that time of the morning it would have been quite quiet but you would have thought some motorist would have seen what happened.”

david.mccann@edinburghnews.com