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Car rolls 500 feet down cliff, driver trapped for 14 hours and survives

A woman whose car went over an embankment off State Route 241 in Irvine is extricated after being stuck for 14 hours, officials said.

A woman whose car went over an embankment off State Route 241 in Irvine is extricated after being stuck for 14 hours, officials said.

(Orange County Fire Authority)

A woman is expected to survive after rolling her car 500 feet down the side of a secluded highway in Orange County and remaining trapped in the vehicle for 14 hours overnight, officials said Thursday.

The mysterious crash occurred sometime Wednesday evening when the woman’s sedan drove off the southbound 241 toll road south of the 261 toll road, said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Larry Kurtz.

The road offers a long, scenic drive in an unincorporated section of Orange County but has steep cliffs and, in some areas, no guardrails. The woman’s car left the highway where there’s about a quarter-mile drop to the grassy and rocky bottom, Kurtz said.

“She absolutely could’ve gone down farther … it’s very isolated and you would not be able to see the crash from the road,” Kurtz said.

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The woman, described as being in her 40s, was headed home from Riverside County when she crashed, Kurtz said. Then, about 7:30 a.m. Thursday, the woman called her husband, the California Highway Patrol said.

It was not immediately clear if she left a message or actually spoke with him, but what she said left her husband with the impression she was lost in Anaheim, said CHP Officer Denise Quesada. The husband called Anaheim police, who pinged her cellphone, said Anaheim Police Sgt. Daron Wyatt.

The phone was dead by the time police tried to track it, but the last known ping from its signal traced back to an unincorporated area of Irvine, Quesada said. Anaheim police called Irvine police, who then tapped the CHP for help.

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A CHP helicopter spotted the car below the highway about 170 yards down the cliff about 10:30 a.m., officials said. The woman suffered “traumatic injuries” and was airlifted to the hospital and was expected to survive, Kurtz said. CHP investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the crash. It was not immediately clear whether any other vehicles were involved, Quesada said.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna

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