The rescue of four people — including two children — whose car nosedived off of a cliff in northern California has been called an “absolute miracle” by local authorities.
On Monday, the Tesla sedan fell off a cliff on the Pacific Coast Highway near a steep, rocky area known as Devil’s Slide. It is not yet clear if the two adults, the four-year-old girl and the nine-year-old boy who were in the car are related.
The vehicle reportedly fell more than 75 metres down from the cliff’s edge and landed in a rocky outcropping, according to The Associated Press.
The victims are in critical condition.
Brian Pottenger, a battalion chief for Coastside Fire Protection District, said the vehicle appeared to have flipped several times on its descent.
Witnesses to the crash called 911 shortly after 10 a.m. on Monday. Rescue crews and firefighters set up a rope system to lower personnel down the cliff, though they did not expect to find any living victims at the time.
While rescuers were working on a descent to the totalled Tesla, Pottenger said they noticed “movement in the front seat through the windshield with binoculars, so we knew we had at least one person that was alive.”
Emergency helicopters were immediately called to the crash site.
Pottenger said crashes in and around Devil’s Slide are usually fatal.
“We were actually very shocked when we found survivable victims in the vehicle, so that actually was a hopeful moment for us,” Pottenger said.
The rescue took several hours due to the car’s location and difficult weather conditions at the time, including rain and heavy winds.
Firefighters used a jaws of life tool to cut the four victims out of the car.
The children suffered musculoskeletal injuries as a result of the crash and were carried up the cliff’s edge using a rope and basket system. The adults, who had reportedly sustained traumatic injuries, were then airlifted to hospital.
The California Highway Patrol does not believe, based on its initial investigation, that the Tesla was operating in Autopilot or Full Self-Driving mode at the time, officer Mark Andrews said.
The road’s conditions were also not believed to be a factor in the cra