Five people in California were injured after an SUV plunged hundreds of feet off a cliff in California, officials said.
Rescue teams responded around 4:40 p.m. on Sept. 14 in Colfax, located near Sacramento, said Cal Fire’s Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit in a statement.
The crash occurred on the Yankee Jims Road near a canyon, the agency said.
Fox40 in Sacramento reported that a 20-year-old male was driving. Passengers included an 18-year-old male in the front passenger seat and three 16-year-old girls in the backseat, the report said.
Officials said that none of the occupants were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the crash.
The SUV overturned several times as it dropped, and the passengers were thrown from the vehicle, the report said.
But they survived despite the severity of the accident.
“Absolute miracle. It was a total miracle that they all survived,” Cal Fire Capt. Chris Baldoni told Fox40. “They exited the roadway here and tumbled, what they described as ‘end over end,’ all the way down to the bottom where the river is,” he added.
A victim climbed back up to the road and flagged a passing car for help.
Officials spent several hours trying to rescue the victims, and required a rope system to retrieve them.
“There was one victim here on the road who had climbed up from the vehicle and alerted passing drivers to call 911,” Baldoni added. “I don’t know what the outcome would have been had he not been able to make it back up here. So, he showed a lot of will and strength.”
“Then we secure all of our rope systems to the fire engine itself because we know that’s not going to move. And then the rescuers don a rescue harness attached to a rope system with mechanical advantages and things like that and they, basically, just rappel down to into the rescue scene to affect the rescue operation,” he told Fox40.
The victims suffered moderate to major injuries in the accident. “One patient was flown out and the rest were ground transported to trauma centers,” Cal Fire wrote.
Meanwhile, the 20-year-old driver Kaige Stephens, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, said police.