By Hollie Bone
A hapless city dweller was left stranded in pitch darkness and forced to shell out £720 to recover his car after his sat nav directed him into a DITCH.
Mohammad Zafar, 35, was late setting off from his hometown of Rochdale, Greater Manchester, last Friday [August 2] for a lads camping weekend with his cousins near Windermere, Cumbria, and took a wrong turn just five miles from his destination.
But legal consultant Mohammed claims his Mini Countryman’s sat nav continued to tell him he was headed in the right direction, despite navigating him onto ‘pitch black’ farm land – eventually leaving his car trapped in a waterlogged ditch three miles from the road.
With extremely limited phone signal and the emergency services unable to help without knowing his location, Mohammed was forced to wait three hours until a family search party found him before abandoning his car and returning to the campsite.
After spending the entire weekend fruitlessly searching for assistance to help remove his car from the Lake District field, he was eventually forced to shell out £720 to a specialist 4×4 company to tow it back to the road – all in time for the 90 minute return journey home.
Mohammad, who is selling the £10,000 car, is now speaking out to warn motorists of the dangers of trusting sat nav technology.
He said: “I was late setting off and hadn’t left until about 10.30pm at night, so by the time I got lost it was already the early hours of Saturday morning.
“I had started driving towards the Lake District and put the centre address into the sat nav. It was saying I was about five miles away and then I took a wrong turn, but the sat nav said I was still going in the right direction so I carried on.
“I ended up in a bit of an obscure place, it was pitch black and it started taking me onto a really narrow track but I still thought it was fine because the sat nav was telling me to go that way.
“Then I noticed it was saying I was two hours away, but by that point I couldn’t turn round and I couldn’t even see which way I had come it was so dark.
“I carried on and the car got stuck in a ditch, that’s when I really started to panic.
“I couldn’t move the car at all, it wouldn’t go forwards or reverse and the ditch was surrounded by water making it hard to push the car anywhere.
“There was no phone signal so I was walking around trying to find reception, I couldn’t even get through to 999 so I ended up calling 112 to see if any of the emergency services could help me, but they told me that without knowing my location there was nothing they could do.
“Even breakdown rescue services wouldn’t help me without my location so I started doing anything I could think of to find my location on my phone, eventually I managed to find my latitude and longitude and got hold of my cousins to tell them.
“But it was still another three hours until they managed to get to me, I was being attacked by so many different flies, spiders and other insects which were being attracted by the headlights, and when the search party arrived it was another hour walk to the car because they’d parked on the roadside.
“I didn’t actually get to the campsite until 6am on Saturday morning.”
Despite the tumultuous journey there, Mohammad said he didn’t let it ruin the weekend but did face plenty of jibes and tormenting from his cousins, who made him the laughing stock of the trip.
But before he could return home, the ill-fated dad faced a £720 bill to retrieve the car and get it back to a road-worthy state to drive – including reattaching both his number plates.
Despite rarely using a sat nav anyway, Mohammad added he would be even more hesitant to use one again and would research his destination before driving somewhere he hadn’t already visited before.
Mohammad said: “We found a recovery company that were able to get the car out of the ditch and took it back to Windermere to fix the little bits of damage on the Sunday.
“He charged my £720 but I didn’t think it was that bad considering no-one had been injured and I was still alive.
“I was able to drive it away on the Sunday afternoon and got back home for 8pm, so it was all in a weekend’s work, but I was knackered by the time I got back.
“I’m not a big fan of sat navs anyway, I only use them when I don’t know the area I’m travelling to but I’d advise others to be vigilant and hesitant when using them too now – especially in rural areas – and to make sure they have the exact location put into the sat nav correctly.”
Simon Henrick, from breakdown company Green Flag, said: “Sat navs are an amazing piece of technology that many of us could not do without, however, on occasions they can literally send you down the wrong path.
“Even if you‘re planning to use a sat nav it’s worth researching your journey and ensuring the technology is there to guide you and not lead you.
“Understanding the road layout and road signs are just as important when using a sat nav as when you aren’t.”