For the second time in just over two weeks, the CHP believes a vehicle was intentionally pointed toward a North Coast cliff and the driver accelerated over it, plunging to the shore below.
The CHP said a 56-year-old Yucca Valley woman who crashed off a Sonoma Coast cliff Saturday with her cat and dog onboard, drove through a Highway 1 parking lot and off the cliff, her van falling about 100 feet before landing upright in the sand.
Her name has not been released as CHP officers suspect the crash was a suicide attempt and people involved in mental health cases aren’t identified, CHP Officer Jon Sloat said.
Officers have found no evidence that Saturday’s 4:30 p.m. crash near Coleman Valley Road, north of Bodega Bay, was an accident, said Sloat.
On March 26, the wreckage of an SUV belonging to a Washington state family of eight was found at the bottom of a Highway 1 turnout on the Mendocino County coast. Investigators say that crash was intentional.
Five bodies were found; the search for the remaining three family members — between the ages of 15 and 16 — is ongoing, though a sixth body found in the surf near the crash site this weekend could be one of the missing, authorities said. A DNA test is needed to confirm that.
“Like the family in Mendocino, there was no skidding, no reason to go off there,” Sloat said of Saturday’s crash.
CHP Officer Cal Robertson called the similarities between last month’s Mendocino Coast crash and the crash north of Bodega Bay “unusual.” He wouldn’t speculate whether Saturday’s crash was a copycat incident.
“It is not something that is, by any means, a common occurrence,” Robertson said. “It is unusual that two incidents like this would happen in such close proximity, time-wise,” he said.
Saturday, the 56-year-old woman’s white Chrysler Town & Country van landed about 5 feet from the water line and suffered major damage.
She and her dog were rescued from the crash in an effort that included state park rangers, Bodega Bay firefighters, two helicopters and paramedics.
The woman was flown to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and has life‑threatening injuries, Sloat said. An update on her condition late Monday was not available.
Her dog appeared uninjured. The cat ran from the van and was rescued Sunday by Bodega Bay firefighters from the cliff.
“We did a cliff rescue for a cat,” Bodega Bay firefighter Marco Barros said. The frightened feline was given to a Sonoma County animal control officer who took it for a medical check.
Staff Writer Christi Warren contributed to this story.
You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707‑521-5412 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter@rossmannreport.