A firefighter curious about a damaged marker on a highway in the Sierra foothills discovered a father and son in an SUV that had plunged 500 feet down a steep grade.
The couple were rescued in a four-hour operation in rain and high winds on Monday.
The SUV could not be seen from the roadway, but a Cal Fire firefighter returning from a call stopped to examine a road marker that had been flattened on the shoulder of Highway 49 south of Coulterville said Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremey Briese in Sacramento. TV channel KOVR.
Looking over the landing stage, the firefighter saw the overturned Toyota 4Runner below.
Rescue teams, including Cal Fire and Maricopa County responders, reached the couple, who was conscious and able to communicate, and they were taken to the hospital.
The driver, Scott Anderson, 51, of Rancho Cordova, had lost control of the SUV on wet pavement, the California Highway Patrol said. The vehicle rolled over several times as it rolled down the hill. Anderson and her 11-year-old son were trapped for nearly an hour before the firefighter discovered them around noon.
The Andersons’ injuries were described as moderate. Briese said they were wearing seat belts.
Also during Monday’s storm, another female driver on Highway 49 was killed when a tree crushed her car, the CHP said.
The 79-year-old Marysville woman was heading north at La Barr Meadows, just south of Grass Valley, when the tree fell on her 2019 Nissan Rogue. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Three other cars were involved in the accident and another driver – a Grass Valley woman – was seriously injured.