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9:53 P.M. â€” Whether they were attempting to imitate legendary daredevil jumper Evel Knievel or just unaware of the danger in front of them, two men in a Honda Civic flew over an 80-foot Cape Coral canal before landing upside down on the other side Thursday night.
Police are unsure of their intent, but a DUI investigation is under way, with a blood test pending for the driver, Daniel W. Purser, 27, of Cape Coral.
Purser and Philip A. Tremblay, 26, also of Cape Coral, were pulled from the car by an off-duty member of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force and his friend visiting from Boston. They were watching TV in a nearby house and heard the crash just after 10 p.m. at the canal at Northwest 17th Avenue and Northwest 19th Terrace.
â€œThey were screaming,â€ said Mike Tamulionis, who owns a home on the canal. â€œHelp! Help!â€
Though there was a good amount of blood â€” possibly caused by glass from the smashed windshield â€” Tamulionis said the men were in fairly good shape considering the seriousness of the wreck.
Both were able to walk away under their own power, he said.
â€œThe driver was really thankful afterwards,â€ Tamulionis said.
A man at the address listed for Purser declined comment Friday; Tremblay could not be reached.
While he didnâ€™t know if the two intended to jump the canal, Tamulionis said many people speed on the three-quarters-of-a-mile long straightaway leading to the curve before the canal, and that at least two other cars have landed in the water at the same intersection.
Between the road and the canal is a vacant lot about 100 feet long, with a narrow, ramp-like protrusion of dirt and grass near the edge.
On the opposite end is a grassy incline marked by crushed vegetation from the impact of the vehicle.
There are no stop signs, speed bumps or street lights in the area.
â€œItâ€™s pretty dark here at night,â€ Tamulionis said.
â€œ(The road) looks like it goes straight through,” said his friend, Justin Derba.
They said they had been talking about the curve and how difficult it is to see at night hours before the crash.
The crash report lists the vehicleâ€™s speed at 50 mph, but Tamulionis said he overheard an investigator say the car was traveling between 100 mph and 110 mph. The speed limit is 35 mph.
Police later said because of the vehicleâ€™s weight and the ground elevation above the canal, a speed of a least 50 mph would be needed to clear the canal.
Chris Morena of autostunts.com said in order to jump 80 feet in a car from one of his professionally built ramps, he would be traveling no less than 40 mph and no more than 45 mph.
His ramps, however, are 40 feet long and 6 feet, 8 inches at their highest point.
The world record in a car, Morena said, is 316 feet, which would require a speed of about 130 mph.
Morena, whoâ€™s been performing stunts for 18 years, also pointed out he performs jumps with all the proper safety gear, including a helmet, five-point harness and roll cage.
â€œIâ€™m glad they walked away,â€ he said.