PLACER COUNTY — Crews worked through rough, rugged terrain Saturday to pull several victims up more than 200 feet from an embankment in Placer County.
“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,” said Cal Fire Capt. Chris Baldoni.
Capt. Baldoni’s crew rushed to Yankee Jims Road near Colfax Saturday afternoon after learning a suspected drunken driver had veered off the roadway and into the canyon.
Three 16-year-old girls, a 20-year-old man and an 18-year-old man were all thrown from the car. They were not wearing seatbelts at the time.
“There was one victim here on the road who had climbed up from the vehicle and alerted passing drivers to call 911,” Baldoni explained. “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.”
Baldoni’s crew got right to work to rescue the other four people.
“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.
Pulling them up one by one required several agencies and roughly 15 rescuers.
All five people inside of the SUV had major injuries but were expected to survive thanks in large part to the crews.
The driver of the SUV, 20-year-old Kaige Stephens, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence
“Absolute miracle. It was a total miracle that they all survived,” Baldoni said.
One of the victim’s grandfathers told FOX40 he wanted to share how grateful he is to the first responders.