Five people from Oregon were killed after their car inexplicably plunged off a cliff in California, leaving officials puzzled.
A woman driving the SUV drove into a dirt turnout area but then continued for unknown reasons off the cliff sitting along the Pacific Coast Highway near Mendincino, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Another woman and three children were in the vehicle.
The highway patrol hasn’t released the names of the victims but said all five resided in West Linn.
The vehicle, a 2003 GMC, plunged about 100 feet off the cliff before landing on its roof on a large rock.
Drugs or alcohol aren’t suspected to be a factor in the crash, nor is the weather, which was clear at the time.
A woman who owns a house near the accident told KOIN that the crash seemed strange because the turnoff is so large.
Google Street View pictures indeed show a large area, but with no guardrail at the edge of the cliff.
Firefighters rappelled down the cliff to retrieve the bodies while a helicopter helped lift them up.
The bodies were recovered by late Monday, but a California Highway Patrol officer told the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat that it’s unclear when the crash occurred.
5 people were killed when a vehicle plunged about 100 feet off a cliff along Northern California's scenic Pacific Coast Highway near #Mendocino. #highway1. https://t.co/LFV55Kdahc pic.twitter.com/X1n5debDvY
— KPIX 5 (@CBSSF) March 27, 2018
The officer noted it’s possible the SUV had been on the shoreline for some time before anyone noticed it.
While the accident happened off of a turnout, the Pacific Coast Highway, in general, is noted as a dangerous road to drive.
“It’s very intense because there are no guard rails at the edge and there is little room for error if oncoming traffic swerves in your direction,” noted the website Dangerous Roads.
“The journey offers an exhilarating driving experience. It’s advised to drive this trip outside the regular holiday season and especially not during weekends to avoid those snails-on-wheels. Because gazing at the views while driving is not a good combination, the highway features many strategically placed vista points allowing motorists to stop and admire the landscape. Traveling above waves crashing into windswept cliffs, over dramatic bridges anchored in rugged outposts, the spectacular drive that hugs the California coast is a journey like no other.”