In what is being called a “miracle” on Monday, four people survived a fall more than 250 feet off a cliff in California while in a Tesla, according to a video statement from various government agencies – the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the San Mateo County Fire Department, and the Coastside Fire Protection District.
Brian Pottenger, battalion chief at Coastside, was involved in the rescue and told the story businessupdates.org over the phone that the area is known to be treacherous.
“That stretch of road, this is quite a regular occurrence with us — and usually most people succumb to their injuries in an accident like this,” he said.
It was a huge surprise that the four people survived, he added.
Four people in a Tesla car, including two children ages 4 and 9, drove over the edge of a cliff on Monday in an area known as Devil’s Slide. The car was traveling south on Route 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, according to the video statement.
This morning a vehicle carrying 2 adults and 2 minors went over the cliff at Devil’s Slide @sanmateoco. Witnesses saw the accident and called 911. The car plunged hundreds of feet off the cliff and landed on the beach. All four patients were successfully rescued. Watch the video! pic.twitter.com/HUM2SJ56Oy
— CAL FIRE CZU (@CALFIRECZU) January 3, 2023
It has been a problem area for quite some time. According to a 1997 story from The San Francisco ChronicleAt least 16 people in the area have died in car accidents in the past 11 years.
The rescue area. Thanks to Cal Fire.
This despite attempts to make it more secure. “For decades, the postcard-worthy landscape has baffled engineers and terrorized drivers with its winding asphalt atop eroding cliffs. Dozens of people have been driven off the road, many plunging to their deaths on the rocks or in the surf below,” the outlet wrote in a story about accidents in the area published in June.
Potter said businessupdates.org that he was previously involved in about 8 to 10 rescues in the area.
After the crash, witnesses called 911, per NBC. Then, according to the video statement (where Pottenger also speaks) the rescuers went down with ropes – and saw at least one person move in the backseat.
Rescue workers on site. Thanks to Cal Fire.
Rescue helicopters arrived in about 20 minutes. But in the meantime they have hoisted the two young people up.
“I didn’t want to wait for the helicopters to get the kids out,” Pottenger said.
They were then able to rescue the adults by helicopter.
The Salvation of the Adults. Thanks to Cal Fire.
The AP also noted that California authorities currently do not believe the car was in any of Tesla’s assisted driving modes, such as Autopilot or Full Self-Driving. At least the last mode has been linked to at least one crash, and they did faced a lawsuit over misleading claims. (Neither is actually “fully” self-driving.)
Pottenger said he can’t be sure if the Tesla car itself is the reason the victims survived, but rather said surviving the fall was a “absolute miracle.”
“I can tell you that the vehicle was in surprisingly good shape considering the amount of fall and the amount of force,” he noted.
The two young people had “moderate injuries” according to the video statement, but the two adults suffered “traumatic” injuries, according to the outlet.