Event Report 20120223
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There I was,
minding my own business and the house started to shake. To
be sure, living close to the Marine base, we get aircraft
overflights all the time. But this racket was loud - so loud
the house was shaking. Typically, when we get a close fly-by
from a helicopter, it is the police searching for somebody.
We sprinted outside to see the fire department helicopter.
Bad news -- this has historically presaged a fire in the canyon in
front of our house. Fearing the worst, I grabbed my camera
and ran outside.
The photos below are what we saw.
I first came outside, I spotted this UH-1 about 30 feet above the
rim of the canyon. I saw no smoke plumes and did not smell
smoke, so I headed to the rim of the canyon for a look.
I got to the canyon rim, I could see CA-52 in the distance and a
bunch of emergency equipment. It was not obvious what was
taking place, but it was not a fire.
"big iron" equipment started to arrive. It was still not
clear what had happened, but then I spotted the tire tracks just
left of center in the photo above.
enough, there was a crew at the bottom of the cliff at what
appeared to be a car. Vision through the heavy brush was a
problem, but the rescue workers are clearly visible in the photo
just a few seconds yet another piece of large equipment arrived,
in this case a ladder truck and support crew.
ladder truck was followed by another CHP cruiser.
more firemen went over the edge and one of the crew already on
site attempted to go up the hill with minimal success. That
hill is very steep.
news-ghouls were hovering about hoping to see some blood.
they figured out that no blood was coming their way, they decided
to move to a different viewpoint.
the airborne ghouls came with their "big iron".
the fire crew reasonably concluded that taking the victim up that
cliff was a non-starter. Instead, they opted for bring the
victim down the canyon bottom to the parking lot about 100 meters
to the west. The ambulance had already repositioned in
anticipation of the victim's arrival.
was only one victim.
was our base station for the weekend and was the shelter from the
non-existent foul weather. This was such a pleasant
surprise. We have camped in this area in the winter many
times and have frequently had cold, windy and/or rainy
weather. High winds in a dusty area is no fun and there is
usually no place to hide.
enough, after all the equipment that was mustered to get this
person out, they sat in the parking lot for quite awhile before
went inside to do chores and returned outside in 15 minutes to see
the wreckers completing their extraction of the crashed vehicle.
Note that the vehicle does not appear to be really damaged.
The air bag did not go off.
shot clearly shows the path of the crash versus the path of the
extraction. That cliff is steep.
went inside to check the TV and there was live video from the
helicopters. The newscaster stated that the woman was on the
phone with her husband and told him that she was driving over the
cliff. The husband called 911. Clearly, for this
person, driving and cell phones don't mix well. Not seen in
the photo above is the fact that the entrance ramp to CA-52
narrows from 2 lanes to only one lane, just to the left of the
left-most wrecker. My guess is that she was on the phone and
there was a car on her left and that person honked at her since
she was ignoring his presence. He honked, she freaked out,
lost control and the rest is photo history.
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