Driver arrested after plunging off Alpine cliff

ALPINE, Calif. (CNS) - A driver trying to evade capture Monday after allegedly attempting to steal gas from county-owned fuel pumps lost control of a car that crashed down a steep ravine on a winding rural road in Alpine and then hid out while injured for an hour before emergency crews hoisted him to safety and airlifted him to a hospital, a sheriff's sergeant said.

Around 6 a.m., a deputy spotted the 25-year-old man allegedly tampering with or attempting to steal gas from fuel pumps at a San Diego County Roads Department facility at 2914 Tavern Road, Sgt. Juan Lopez said. When the deputy approached the man, he fled in a Toyota Camry, speeding south toward Dehesa Road.

"Speeds reached 60 mph and the pursuit lasted for about (half a) mile, when the suspect failed to negotiate a curve along the rural winding road," Lopez said. "The suspect lost control of the Camry, crashing down a steep ravine. The suspect then fled on foot into thick vegetation, eluding deputies."

Deputies searched about an hour before finding the visibly injured driver hiding in thick brush east of the crash site, Lopez said. Deputies rendered emergency medical aid before firefighters from Alpine and Lakeside helped hoist him from the ravine and loaded him onto an air ambulance for transport to a trauma hospital.

The driver, who was not immediately identified, is expected to recover from his injuries and, once released from medical care, will likely face charges that include delaying and evading an officer, Lopez said.

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