Driver Plunged Off Highway 1 Cliff Rescued by Helicopter

a person in a helmet holding a yellow pole in a forest
Watch a Wild California Canyon Helicopter Rescue Sonoma Sheriff

California car enthusiasts are uniquely blessed with miles of canyon-carving pavement at their disposal and California Highway 1 is one of the Golden State's most iconic examples. Following the coastline from Mendocino County to Orange County, the two-lane highway is home to inviting curves and dropping cliffs alike, as one driver unfortunately found out over the weekend.

According to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department, a driver of a Ford F-150 crashed off the side of a cliff near Jewell Gulch on Highway 1 in Jenner, California on Sunday, May 19. Thanks to Ford's automatic crash notification system, Sonoma County's Henry-1 helicopter rescue team was able to locate the coordinates of the crash quickly, finding the silver pickup 200 feet down from the roadway.

A rescue team including a tactical flight officer and paramedic repelled down the embankment to find that a large tree had softened the impact, though the sole occupant of the truck was nowhere to be found. With help from the Monte Rio Fire Protection District and Timber Cove Fire Department, an additional rope system was deployed to increase the number of personnel searching the wreckage.


After nearly an hour of searching for the driver, members of the helicopter rescue team located the severely injured victim 350 feet down the cliff and began coordinating a rescue. Following a careful retrieval of the victim, the Henry-1 rescue team then transferred to driver to another Sonoma County helicopter for transport to a local trauma hospital. The driver is expected to survive, according to a Facebook post by the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office.

Details about what led up to the crash remain unclear. Even so, the frightening aftermath of the crash and ensuing rescue are a sobering reminder to drive within your limits on public roads. There are plenty of examples of just how wrong a spirited drive in the canyons can go and this driver is lucky to be alive.

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