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Driver survives 100-foot plunge off cliff, five days trapped in truck

Kern County Fire Department

(NEW YORK) — A driver who plunged off a 100-foot cliff in a remote area of Southern California and spent five days “immobilized” in their wrecked pickup truck, was rescued this weekend by firefighters who formed a human pulley system to pluck the victim from the ravine, authorities said.


The rescue unfolded about 10:58 a.m. local time on Saturday in the Tehachapi Mountains of Kern County when a 911 caller reported seeing a vehicle at the bottom of a steep ravine on a zig-zagging two-lane road between the towns of Arvin and Stallion Springs, according to a Kern County Fire Department incident report.

When firefighters got to the secluded scene, they found a badly damaged pickup truck and one occupant at the bottom of a 100-foot cliff, according to the report.

“Additional personnel and equipment would clearly be needed,” fire officials wrote, noting the steep, rugged terrain posed a challenge to reach the injured driver.

A team of more than 20 firefighters — including four engine crews, six fire patrol units and an urban search and rescue team — joined forces to pull off the rescue, officials said.

The fire crews “built a rope rescue system” to reach the driver, officials said.

A photo released by the fire department shows more than a dozen firefighters standing shoulder-to-shoulder on a dirt road above the ravine, holding onto a rope and lowering a rescuer down to the crashed vehicle.

“The patient was injured and had been immobilized at the bottom of the ravine since Tuesday, August 29th,” according to the incident report.

Using the same rope-rescue system, three more rescuers rappelled down the ravine, secured the driver in a basket and pulled the person to safety, officials said.

The driver, whose name and gender were not released, was flown by helicopter to an area hospital and was being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, officials said.

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