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November 26, 2022

Two bodies pulled from sunken vehicle in Moss Landing Harbor

MOSS LANDING—Two women died after their car plunged into the water of Moss Landing Harbor sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning.

The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office has identified the victims as Maria Vanessa Carrango, 35, and Esther Monique Espinoza, 28, both of Salinas. Carrango was the driver.

California Highway Patrol officer Adrian Araiza said emergency crews were called to a report of a vehicle upside down in the water about 50 feet from the shore where Dolan Road meets Highway 1 across the highway from the Moss Landing power plant at 2:50pm Saturday.

Araiza said it appeared the car, later identified as a 2010 Acura sedan, had traveled along Dolan Road, across Highway 1, through a chain link gate and sailed airborne before landing in the water. The car tore out about 80-feet of the chain link fence before hitting the water.

“There were no witnesses so it is difficult to determine when the incident occurred,” Ariaza said.

Rescuers from North Monterey County Fire joined the CHP, State Parks and the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office in the lengthy recovery operation. Divers eventually managed to pull the two bodies from the sunken car.

Araiza said it was too early to determine whether alcohol or drugs played a role in the incident. Based on the manner in which the large metal gate and a large swatch of fence was ripped open, it appeared the car was traveling at a high speed upon impact, he said.

North and southbound traffic on Highway 1 and on Dolan Road was snarled for several hours during the recovery operation.

The Monterey Sheriff’s Dive Team searched the submerged vehicle and surrounding area to ensure that no other people were in or around the vehicle. Divers then aided in the removal of the Acura from the harbor waters.

The incident is still under investigation.

Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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