Workers float part of a dock out into the Kennebec River at the East Side Boat Landing in Augusta in 2020, with Memorial Bridge seen in the background. A teenage driver was charged Monday after driving a car into this area of the Kennebec River. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

AUGUSTA — A driver and passenger escaped uninjured from a car that reportedly drove into the Kennebec River at the East Side Boat Landing on Monday evening.

Police charged the driver, Saleh Omar Kharfan, 19, of Augusta, with driving to endanger.

At 6:11 p.m., Augusta police responded to a report of a car accident on Howard Street, which is the entrance to the city’s East Side Boat Landing and playground area.

Staff Sgt. Eric Lloyd said a vehicle went into the river and Kharfan and a passenger he did not identify exited through open windows of the vehicle and swam to shore. He said no one was injured.

He confirmed that Kharfan was issued a summons on a charge of driving to endanger, but declined to elaborate on that charge, noting the case is an open investigation.

He also declined to say how the vehicle and its occupants ended up in the river.


Lloyd said the vehicle traveled away from the boat launch, downriver, but submerged before it got past Memorial Bridge.

Augusta Fire Battalion Chief Brian Chamberlain said the car was underwater when firefighters arrived, and the two occupants had made it to shore, with the assistance of bystanders.

Firefighters in a boat assisted Statewide Towing in retrieving the vehicle from the river, where it was submerged in about 10 feet of water.

Public safety workers were on the scene for about two hours, according to dispatch records.

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