Coast Guard rescues two car crash survivors from fall off 250 foot cliff

MCKINLEYVILLE, Calif. – The U.S. Coast Guard assisted with saving two lives Tuesday evening after they received a report of a vehicle that had driven off Highway 96 several miles South of Somes Bar and came to rest upside down in the Klamath River 250 feet below.

At approximately 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday evening the Coast Guard responded to a request from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in Fortuna to assist in the rescue of a man and a woman who had survived a major vehicle accident off highway 96, approximately 40 miles Northeast of McKinleyville, CA. Coast Guard Group/Air Station Humboldt Bay immediately dispatched an HH-65C rescue helicopter from the Arcata Airport in McKinleyville, CA. The HH-65C, commanded by LT Lauren Cox and assisted by LTJG Michael Chocholak, arrived at the crash site at approximately 5:45pm.

Two air ambulance helicopters had previously been called in to assist but were unable to recover the survivors due to the lack of hoisting capability and the steep terrain of the confined area in which the survivors were located. Emergency crews had blocked off a section of the highway in order to create a suitable landing zone for the rescue helicopters to transfer survivors once they had been extracted from the crash site along the river’s edge.

Once on scene, the HH-65C’s rescue swimmer, AST2 Chris Hoffman, was lowered down to the river bank where he was able to secure an area to receive two rescue litters which were immediately lowered down by the flight mechanic, AMT2 Jake Marks. The HH-65C crew then hoisted both survivors and safely transferred them to the air ambulance helicopters at the nearby landing zone along highway 96.

The patients were flown to Mercy Medical Center in Redding, CA. The male survivor was reported to be in critical but stable condition. The female is reported to be in serious condition.

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