Woman survives after veering car off road and plunging 450ft from cliff

Lily Puckett

A woman has survived after falling 450 feet (137 metres) down a cliff in her car after veering off a road.

The unidentified woman was driving on the coastal highway in Northern California when her vehicle came off the road on Tuesday morning.

A bicyclist witnessed the accident and alerted California Highway Patrol.

Authorities say the car likely would have fallen another 800 feet, had it not hit a tree on the way down.

Shaun Bouyea, a California Highway Patrol flight officer and paramedic who was part of the rescue team, told the San Francisco Chronicle that if the unnamed cyclist hadn’t witnessed the accident, it’s unlikely anyone have would have spotted the crash in the heavily wooded mountainside.

“She was extremely lucky,” Mr Bouyea said of the driver. “I’d buy a lottery ticket if I were her.”

After calling 911, the bicyclist also attempted to climb down the mountain herself.

Mr Bouyea does not advise this action, but said he understood the impulse.

“Human nature is to want to go down,” he said. “I wouldn’t recommend to the general public going over the edge like that because you yourself can become a victim.”

To rescue the driver, Mr Bouyea hoisted paramedics down through a six to eight-foot opening in an oak tree canopy to reach the vehicle, which was stuck in a “precarious” position.

The team removed the windshield and pulled the woman through the hole.

The driver suffered major but non-life-threatening injuries. She is in stable condition in a nearby hospital in Napa.