It was a Monday morning disaster on the perilous Devil’s Slide section of Highway 1 near Pacifica as a vehicle flew off the road and fell more than 250 feet, yet multiple helicopters and dozens of rescue workers managed to get the two children and two adult passengers out alive.
The stretch of Highway 1 south of Pacifica known as Devil’s Slide regrettably lives up to its name on an all-too frequent basis, and did so again Monday morning when a Tesla flew off Highway 1 and plummeted “250 feet onto rocks,” according to the Chronicle. But thanks to a cavalry of first responders and rescue personnel, and a daring rescue mission that lasted nearly four and a half hours, the four passengers — including a nine-year-old and a four-year-old — have all survived but remain in critical condition.
This afternoon, deputies responded to a solo vehicle over the side of Hwy 1 south of the Tom Lantos tunnel. Two adults suffered non-life threatening injuries and two children were unharmed. Tremendous collaborative effort btwn SMSO, @CHP_GoldenGate and @calfireSCU pic.twitter.com/sVyKp6LSrc— San Mateo County S.O (@SMCSheriff) January 3, 2023
According to KGO, “Witnesses called 911 around 10:15 a.m.” to report that the car flew off a cliff just south of the Tom Lantos Tunnels. Rescuers were initially skeptical there could be any survivors, but saw the movement of arms while looking at the vehicle through binoculars. KTVU reports that about “30 to 50 rescuers” converged on the scene, and the two children were pulled up the cliff by hand using rescue baskets. The two adults were more severely injured, and required helicopter rescues as seen below.
Multiple helicopters have been dispatched. One patient has been brought to the top of the cliff by firefighters. pic.twitter.com/QnoYrjTOOc— CAL FIRE CZU (@CALFIRECZU) January 2, 2023
By about 3:20 p.m., all four passengers were rescued and transported to Stanford Medical Center. "We come out here unfortunately all too often for things like this," Cal Fire/Coastside Fire Protection District battalion chief Brian Pottenger told KPIX. "And this was nothing short of a miracle today that they survived."
Multiple agencies responded, including CAL FIRE, Coastside Fire Protection District, @NoCoFire @SMHarbor @CaliforniaStateParks (San Mateo) @CHP_HQ @AMR_Social @uscoastguard pic.twitter.com/wih1JCJMBF— CAL FIRE CZU (@CALFIRECZU) January 3, 2023
Pottenger added to KGO. "We go there all the time for cars over the cliff and they never live. This was an absolute miracle."
According to the Chronicle, that winding stretch of Highway 1 south of Pacifica “has claimed at least nine lives since Caltrans opened the tunnels in 2013.”
Since this was a Tesla, there will of course be questions about whether the car was in self-driving mode. But the California Highway Patrol does not believe that was the case at this point in their investigation. And frankly, this reflects on Tesla pretty well that all four victims survived such an extreme crash. As KGO points out, “There was no guardrail at the spot where the sedan went off the cliff.”
Related: Car Flies Off Cliff Near Devil's Slide On Highway 1 [SFist]
Image: @SMCSheriff via Twitter