A turkey on Highway 1 caused a Canadian motorcycle rider to crash sometime early Monday, and the man told investigators he then walked to a coastal bluff and jumped off, naked.
The 27-year-old Alberta man had shed his clothing as he walked and was found, nude and seriously injured, on rocks about 40 feet below a coastal bluff in Salt Point State Park.
The CHP is investigating the man’s crash and a Sonoma County sheriff’s investigator is looking into what happened afterward, including whether he was trying to die or hurt himself or acted because of his injuries, said CHP spokesman Officer Jon Sloat. The man wasn’t identified as his mental health was being evaluated.
The investigators Tuesday afternoon interviewed the hospitalized man, who has moderate injuries including a head wound.
He was headed south, bound for South America for a job, he told investigators. The turkey reportedly appeared while he was riding on the coast highway near Kruse Ranch Road.
The man initially told some rescuers he thought he’d crashed as early as about midnight Sunday and that he didn’t remember anything between riding on the highway and then finding himself on the rocks, said Tim Murphy, supervising state parks lifeguard.
At about 5 a.m., a driver spotted a downed motorcycle on the side of the highway and some riding gear. Without cell service, the driver drove further south, calling to alert authorities as they approached the Russian River.
The call launched a huge hunt involving multiple agencies and a search that combed the edges of the highway in dense fog and thick forested land to either side. It also turned up a strange scene.
On the grounded bike sat a damaged helmet, as well as some other gear. And then, a trail of sorts of discarded but folded clothing and items greeted searchers, including the man’s wallet, officials said.
The man had headed into thick brush and walked perhaps a quarter-mile to a bluff near Fisk Mill Cove.
The brush was so thick that Timber Cove and Sea Ranch Cal Fire firefighters used chainsaws to cut through it to allow a path.
The strangeness of the discarded clothing and effort taken to reach the bluff led some officials to try to reconcile the apparent crash of the motorcycle with the appearance the man had acted on purpose.
Turns out it apparently was both.
He was located at about 9:30 a.m. after a state parks lifeguard searching area bluffs heard someone calling for help, Murphy said. That was perhaps as long as nine or 10 hours after the man crashed.
“I think he’s very lucky when you consider the air temperature at night, not wearing anything, and being on the cold wet rocks for several hours,” Murphy said.
Then there was the 30-40 foot fall. “I’m amazed he wasn’t killed,” the veteran state lifeguard said.
Because of thick fog, a quick rescue by the Sonoma County sheriff’s helicopter wasn’t possible. So as many as 20 people from six coastal agencies, which frequently work together on emergency calls along the Sonoma Coast, put together a labor-intensive ropes rescue.
They lowered some rescuers and a litter over the bluff and down. At least one state lifeguard arrived to the injured man on a jet ski.