A Coast Guard helicopter flown in to aid the rescue of a 4-year-old Santa Rosa boy at Bodega Head is stuck where it landed at the scene of the accident, officials said Wednesday.
The bright-orange MH-65D flew in from the San Francisco air station Monday afternoon when Sebastion Johnson tumbled off a more than 230-foot cliff.
The helicopter touched down on soft, sloping ground and began to sink in, preventing a safe take off, Coast Guard spokeswoman Loumania Stewart said.
The $9 million helicopter remained on the headlands Wednesday as authorities tried to figure out the best way to move it.
It was unclear why it couldn’t be flown away. Officials said it was not damaged.
“It’s unsafe to take off from where they are at,” Stewart said. “We’ve just been assessing the situation and deciding what our next move is.”
The boy slipped over the edge while throwing rocks into the ocean with his mother, said his father, Daryl Johnson. He survived but suffered multiple broken bones, the father said.
Bodega Bay firefighters rappelled down the cliff and rescued him.
He was taken by ambulance to a Santa Rosa hospital and then to Children’s Hospital Oakland.
His father said he remained in an induced coma Wednesday. He said doctors were concerned because brain fluid leaked from his ear.
At the time of the accident, foggy weather prevented his transport by helicopter. And Coast Guard pilots deemed their situation too dangerous to fly him out, said another Coast Guard spokesman, Lt. J.G. Sean Kelly.
Kelly said the helicopter did not sustain rotor damage. A maintenance technician told ABC news that crews were digging behind its wheels to try to roll the helicopter onto level ground, he said.
“It’s a whole lot easier to land a helicopter than to take off,” he said.
Meanwhile, the craft was grounded at the Sonoma Coast State Park, just south of the parking lot, said supervising lifeguard Tim Murphy.
He said the Coast Guard was considering options to include lifting the helicopter onto a trailer and trucking it out.
You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @ppayne.