Rescue workers pulled four accident victims to safety this weekend in two separate over-the-rail incidents occurring within a 4-mile stretch of the Angeles Crest Highway north of La Cañada, a member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported Monday.
On Saturday at around 12:47 p.m., the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station received a report that a white Toyota Solara had plummeted 20 feet down an embankment near mile marker 44.82, about 2 miles north of the Barley Flats Road junction, according to Watch Commander Lt. Bill Jaeger.
The Montrose Search and Rescue team responded to the scene and found a 23-year-old male and a female, 22, inside the vehicle. The man was unconscious following the incident but sustained only minor injuries and was eventually able to walk back to the highway, according to a sheriff’s report.
The female had sustained moderate injuries and was hoisted from the crash site by rescuers. Both occupants were airlifted by the sheriff’s “Air Rescue 5” helicopter and taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital, where their injuries were treated, Jaeger said.
The second accident occurred sometime in the early morning hours of Sunday, when a 20-year-old male was driving with a 16-year-old female passenger and lost control of the vehicle. The car, a sedan registered in Hacienda Heights whose make and model could not be determined by sheriff’s officials, was discovered Sunday morning sometime after 10 a.m., according to Jaeger.
A call from the U.S. Forest Service came in to the Crescenta Valley station at around 9:52 a.m., after an amateur photographer taking pictures by the Red Box junction at Mt. Wilson Road heard a female voice calling for help.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies, assisted by the forest service and the Los Angeles County Fire Department, responded to the site of the crash.
“The vehicle wound up about 400 feet down the side of the road,” said Jaeger, who was the watch commander on duty at the time. “We found a female about 75 feet past the guard rail. She had been ejected from the vehicle.”
The victim told deputies she believed the accident had taken place in the early morning hours while it was still dark outside. The juvenile said she didn’t know how her friend had lost control of the car, thinking perhaps he had fallen sleep. Jaeger said responding units observed a blood trail leading from the vehicle that lasted for about 500 yards.
“Then the blood trail just stopped,” he said, adding that its end point was near an access road that led rescuers to believe the man may have walked out or been picked up by someone.
Two helicopters from the sheriff’s and fire departments were joined by two blood-scent dogs and responders from three units in a search that covered a wide swath and lasted about four hours but was ultimately unsuccessful, the watch commander reported.
At about 2:15 p.m., the search was called off and rescuers left the area. The female passenger, who’d suffered a broken ankle, was transported to Huntington Memorial Hospital. Less than an hour later, while a TV news crew was reporting the incident, a crew member heard a male voice calling from a nearby canyon.
“We immediately dispatched out people up there,” Jaeger said of a second call, which came in at 3:15 p.m. “We found (the driver) and picked him off the mountain.”
The young man had sustained a broken leg, broken hand and had a large contusion on his head. He told rescuers he’d heard the voice of his female companion upon gaining consciousness, but was injured and disoriented, Jaeger said.
“They were so far down and this cliff was so steep, he couldn’t find a way back up in his physical condition,” he added.
After wandering for several hours, likely in a circuitous manner that confounded search efforts, the driver was located by Angeles Crest mile marker 40.09 and was transported to Huntington Memorial.
As of Monday morning, both victims had been treated and released from the hospital, the watch commander reported.