Driver arrested after car’s river plunge

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OXFORD — A man who drove his car into the Little Androscoggin River on Tuesday night was charged with operating under the influence.

Bradley D. Hooper, 50, of 103 Andrews Road in Albany Township was released from the Oxford County Jail on Wednesday morning on $500 unsecured bail. On admission to the jail, his blood-alcohol level tested at 0.20 percent, more than twice the legal threshold of 0.08 percent.

Chief Jon Tibbetts of the Oxford Police Department said Hooper was driving his 2005 Honda Civic north on Route 26 around 11:30 p.m. He kept going straight on a curve near Carter’s X-C Ski Center. The vehicle glanced off the end of a guardrail, went down an embankment and plunged into the water.

Tibbetts said Hooper escaped the sinking car by kicking out the driver’s-side window. Another driver saw the accident and reported it to police. Hooper was taken into custody after police performed sobriety tests at the scene.

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“He’s lucky to be alive,” Tibbetts said.

The Oxford Police Department, Oxford Fire and Rescue and the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene. The car remained completely submerged for about 12 hours. A diver secured it Wednesday morning and a crane from Greeley’s Garage of Auburn hoisted it from the water.

The vehicle’s air bags were deployed, and there was damage to the front bumper. Tibbetts said the car will be considered demolished due to the extensive water damage. Police officers and firefighters at the recovery scene laughed when they saw the car’s bumper sticker: “It’s the stupidity, stupid,” as a crane lowered the car to the ground.

Hooper is employed as a division manager at the Portland office of the printing company Wise. He also performs as an acoustic musician. He recovered his guitar from the vehicle on Wednesday morning.

Tibbetts said that Hooper’s insurance should cover the recovery costs.

mlangeveld@sunjournal.com

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