Motorist airlifted after plunging off cliff on Highway 1

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A motorist was airlifted to a hospital Sunday afternoon after his car went over an embankment and fell 200 feet off Highway 1 near Fort Ross.

The 55-year-old man survived the 2:35 p.m. crash and was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital in critical condition, CHP dispatchers said.

Rescuers from at least five agencies responded to the accident, Timber Cove Fire Chief Erich Lynn said.

“It is about 1,000 feet down to the bottom of the cliff,” Lynn said. “We had a team of people on ropes navigating the complicated rescue situation.”

It was a difficult save because the car rolled onto the driver’s side, trapping the man, Lynn said. He said a trained rope rescuer from a fire department on the East Coast was hiking in the area while on vacation and volunteered to help.

Lynn said he isn’t sure how long it would have taken for someone to find the driver had hikers not spotted him.

CHP pilot and paramedic Shaun Bouyea said the driver was extremely lucky, despite his severe injuries.

“The chance of someone seeing him going over the edge was really lucky, because of how irregularly people drive back and forth around there,” Bouyea said.

A small cluster of trees and bushes were the only reason the driver did not tumble all the way down into the ocean, Bouyea said.

Responders from Cal Fire, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, CHP and firefighters from Timber Cove and Monte Rio were called to the crash. There were no other motorists involved.

The cause of the accident is still being investigated.

You can reach Staff Writer Alexandria Bordas at 707-521-5337 or alexandria.bordas@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @CrossingBordas.

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