Firefighters rescue East Bay driver after Jenner cliff crash

An injured East Bay woman whose pickup plunged more than 100 feet down a Jenner cliff on Saturday was rescued and lifted to Highway 1 by first responders amid howling winds and pouring rain.

The woman wasn’t badly hurt, which was surprising as her small truck rolled as it dropped toward the small beach below, Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman said Monday.

“She’s very fortunate. That car went 125 feet down the hill with her in it. Her pickup rolled over twice, landed on its side. She was still in it when we got there,” Baxman said.

The CHP Monday identified the driver as Lucie Tigner, 60, of Pacheco. Tigner told firefighters she’d been camping with family up the coast and was headed south on her own, accompanied by her small terrier.

“Partway between Jenner and Russian Gulch there’s a horseshoe curve in there that she drove straight through,” said CHP Officer Marcus Hawkins.

A driver behind the pickup saw the truck disappear over the edge and called for help about 2:45 p.m. Two fire agencies, state parks, the Sheriff’s Office, CHP and an ambulance responded to the curve north of Jenner known for crashes.

“There’s a turn at the edge of the guardrail, they come too fast and over they go,” said Baxman, a veteran of coast crash responses.

Monte Rio and Cal Fire firefighters and a state coast lifeguard rigged up a rope rescue system, and five in the group picked their way cautiously down the steep, muddy cliff.

“The wind was howling. It was raining hard the whole time,” Baxman said.

The team used chainsaws to cut through thick brush to get to the pickup, which had stopped in the drainage above the beach, in at least a foot of water. Inside the 1996 Toyota Tacoma they found the driver but no dog, which apparently had run off. They got the woman onto a litter, attached it to the ropes and she was pulled to the top.

“She came out of it with a broken collarbone and shoulder injury,” Baxman said. “She’s out of the hospital already.”

In better weather, the sheriff’s or CHP helicopter likely would have responded and quickly plucked the victim for a brief ride up the hill. Rope rescues take time, are laborious and can be difficult, especially on a cliff over the ocean.

But Saturday’s rescue, with a victim who wasn’t badly injured, provided the crews the chance to train together, Baxman said. “It was one of those calls when everything was working against you, the weather and terrain, and everything went great.”

Except for the missing dog, which likely was injured in the crash, the chief said.

Firefighters Sunday returned to the curve to work with a tow truck driver retrieving the pickup and also to look for the dog. “We looked all over,” Baxman said. “We can’t find the dog.”

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707-521-5412.

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