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Tourist rescued after driving rental car off cliff in Hawaii

Oliver Helbig/Getty Images

(SOUTH POINT, Hawaii) — A Canadian tourist is lucky to be alive after he apparently took a wrong turn on a remote road in Hawaii and drove his rental car off a 60-foot cliff, before falling out of the vehicle and getting washed out to sea, authorities said.

The 27-year-old man, whose name was not released, was rescued by firefighters and a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew after several fishermen saw the crash and called 911, officials said.

The incident unfolded about 3:30 a.m. on Sunday in the South Point area on the island of Hawai’i near the Ka’u Forest Reserve, according to the Hawaii Fire Department.

Witnesses said that the man’s rented Jeep landed upside down on the rocks below the cliff. When the driver, who was alone, opened the passenger side door, he plummeted into the water and was washed out to sea, officials said.

When fire crews arrived, they spotted the man about 100 yards off shore. Firefighters were able to coach him into swimming to safe spot to get out of the water, according to the fire department.

A Coast Guard helicopter crew used ropes to retrieve the man, officials said. He was taken to a hospital, where he was treated for minor cuts and mild hypothermia, officials said.

Mike Moody, a spear fisherman who was in the area at the time, told ABC News’ affiliate station, KTIV that the tourist was lucky he and other fishermen were in the area at the time and called for help.

Moody said the crashed vehicle became snagged on the rocks upside down and jammed against the cliff. He said the motorist couldn’t get out the driver’s side door and that when he opened the passenger side door he immediately plummeted into the water below.

Authorities said the tourist apparently took a wrong turn and ended up on a narrow dirt road leading along the cliffside to South Point.

“Obviously, it was upside down on the roof,” Moody said of the rented Jeep. “So, he was upside down and hanging right over the water on the passenger side. He probably had no idea there was water underneath him.”

Th incident happened about two months after a 34-year-old tourist from Northern California survived being stranded for three days after tumbling off a 1,000-foot cliff while hiking near a waterfall in the Ko’olau mountain range on the island of Oahu.

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