Driver-in-training launches car into water

Derek Korff-Korn, right, standing next to his father Justin Korn watches his car float after accidentially driving it into the water near Katama Point. — Stacey Rupolo

A driving lesson went belly-up on Monday afternoon when Derek Korff-Korn accidentally launched his car, with his father in the passenger seat, into the waters off the Edgartown town landing off Edgartown Road in Katama. Derek, an unlicensed driver without a permit, was operating the car under the supervision of his father, Justin Korn. Both passengers were unharmed.

The Edgartown police and fire departments responded to the accident. Mr. Korn was issued a written warning and a citation for permitting unlicensed operation of his vehicle.

Mr. Korn said he was shocked when his driving lesson turned into a mid-afternoon swim. He immediately lowered his window as the car hit the water. His quick thinking, along with help from a nearby witness, allowed Mr. Korn and his son to escape with barely a drop of water on them.

Edgartown Deputy Shellfish Warden Warren Gaines was sitting in his truck when he heard the car roar by and slam into the water. He stared in disbelief and then jumped into action when he realized what was happening. Mr. Gaines called the police and walked to the end of the affixed dock to pull the floating car closer to shore, and to help the passengers onto the dock.

“It’s a really lucky day,” Mr. Gaines said. “It’s a busy dock. There are usually a lot of boats. There were people docking just a few minutes earlier.”

“We’re speechless,” Mr. Korn said. “The electric would have failed, we had one moment [to react].”

As he watched the car get hauled out of the choppy water near Katama Point, Derek snapped photos of the accident and explained where it all went wrong.

After taking a few turns around the parking lot, Derek approached the bulkhead, and accidentally floored the accelerator instead of hitting the brake.

“I was shaken up,” Derek said. “But I’ll be fine.”

This accident came at the end of a family vacation for the Korff-Korns, who were planning on returning to their home in New York on Tuesday. The family had to make other arrangements to get themselves off-Island.

“Thankfully no one was hurt,” said Andrew Kelly, Edgartown assistant fire chief.

This was the fourth time that a car has been driven into the water on Martha’s Vineyard this summer — once in Vineyard Haven, and now three times in Edgartown (involving two drivers).


  1. You write “an unlicensed driver”, — did he have a learners permit?
    If so would have been nice to report that to be thorough in your reporting!

    • If you read the first paragraph, it said he did not have a permit. I bet he’s not a veteran either…

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