SAN DIEGO - A suspected drunken driver was hoisted up and carried away by helicopter in Sunset Cliffs Monday after he drove his car about 40 feet off a cliff and onto the beach below, authorities said.
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The crash in the 700 block of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard near Osprey Street was reported at 5:45 a.m., according to a San Diego Fire-Rescue Department dispatcher. The man got himself out of his car, which landed on its wheels in shallow beach water, he said.
The person who called 911 told 10News the driver appeared to have removed himself from the car and was pacing, unresponsive, as authorities called down to him.
SDFRD paramedic Josh Miramontez was one of only a few who descended the cliffs to get to the driver. Other rescue workers coordinated their efforts from above.
"I'm not sure how he got down there," Miramontez said. "Obviously, the vehicle went over the side of the cliff. No airbags were deployed and the patient was talking with us."
Without air bags deploying, first responders could hardly believe he was alert.
"I was surprised to see him speaking with us and interacting with us," Miramontez added. "[There was] significant damage to the vehicle, so I was a little surprised."
The trunk of the vehicle may have hit first, which may have softened the blow, authorities said.
"There is a lot of damage to the rear end of the vehicle," he said.
Nearly an hour after the crash was reported, the man was hoisted up by a helicopter while in a rescue basket, a rescuer by his side. Without setting down, the helicopter flew away with the dangling patient and rescuer, who were both eventually drawn up into the chopper as it made its way to a nearby hospital.
10News learned the man suffered major injuries, but they are not considered life-threatening.
According to San Diego police Officer Dan Lasher, the man was suspected of driving under the influence. His name was not immediately released.
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