Satnav leads family into river

2013-04-16 08:16

APENNINES, Italy - A British family-of-12 had to be rescued by Italian police after their navigation system led them to a fast-flowing river.

Michael and Tania Sullivan, who were on holiday with ten of their children, were using the GPS navigator in their 12-seater minibus when the navigation sent them the wrong way and they ended up down a muddy dirt road facing the raging river.


Sullivan used his cell phone to call police after meeting two locals who were walking about. The police managed to pin point his exact location by using a trace system which tracks a caller’s exact spot by satellite. Unfortunately for the family, they had to wait for three hours before police reached the isolated spot.
The Sullivans and their children, ranging from ages four months to 13, were on their way to a bed and breakfast in the mountains at Villa Minozzo near Reggio Emilia in Italy's central Appenines.

The satnav directed Sullivan down a gravel road which eventually took them to the edge of the swollen river – not even anywhere close where they were meant to be.


Sullivan (40), attempted to reverse the minibus back up the road, but the tyres sank deeper into the mud and got them stuck.

After being rescued, Sulliavn said: “Looking back at it now it was quite funny but at the time it was scary as we didn't know how we were going to get out of there.”

“We had just done 16km of winding mountain roads which we were glad to see end when the satnav told us to turn back which I thought was odd but I did as it said and we ended up going down quite a steep track.”

“It was all cut up and littered with rocks - it certainly wasn't a road - and at the end was this river which was going quite quick and that's when I knew something wasn't quite right and I started to get worried as didn't know how we would get out.”


“I'm so glad that couple were passing and managed to help us out. Luckily for us they spoke English and they called the police. We were taken to the police station and the children were given chocolates and we were put on the right road,” said Sullivan.

According to the Daily Mail, the couple have won plaudits for refusing to claim benefits - unlike other families with several children - and bought the minibus so they could ferry the children about.

The family are currently on an eight-week tour of Europe with wife Tania writing about their exploits on her website , hoping to publish a book one day.

The family from Kent, England are apparently well-known for not claiming benefits the Daily Mail reported.

“The trip is a good experience for the children and we are enjoying our time together as a family - this adventure will make a great chapter in Tania's book,” said Sullivan.