July 29, 2009 in City

Vehicle went end-over-end down embankment

By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photo

A rugged rescue: Spokane firefighters and ambulance crews snake their way along a trail below the bluff at High Drive and 29th Avenue after rescuing a man whose vehicle went over the embankment about 6:35 p.m. Tuesday. It took emergency crews about an hour to extricate the man, believed to be in his late teens, from the vehicle. The driver, who’d recently been released from a hospital, apparently had a medical emergency that caused him to black out, police said. A hiker spotted the vehicle, which wasn’t visible from High Drive or Highway 195. The man’s condition was unknown late Tuesday.
(Full-size photo)

An 18-year-old driver whose vehicle plunged end-over-end down a steep embankment west of High Drive on Monday evening survived because he was wearing a seat belt, fire officials said.

He was taken to Sacred Heart Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries. His condition this morning was not initially available from authorities.

The victim’s crumpled car was found midway down the steep hillside by a hiker, who called for help from the scene about 6:30 p.m. and then climbed up the hill to meet firefighters coming down from High Drive, said Battalion Chief Steve Sabo in a Monday night press release.

The accident apparently occurred shortly before 5:30 p.m. when a witness driving along state Highway 195 in Latah Valley saw the car plunge down the hill. The witness called in the incident but did not wait for firefighters who responded to the bottom of the hill at Highway 195 and Thorpe Road.

Firefighters could not find the wreckage from above or below, and returned to other duties.

An hour later, the hiker, using the trail network along the hillside, found the vehicle in heavy brush, which apparently had stopped the car’s plunge just short of an even more treacherous pitch of the hillside, Sabo said. The call to authorities came by cell phone from the scene.

Eighteen firefighters, including a technical team trained for high-angle rescues, worked their way down the hillside and had to extricate the driver from the car while at the same time tending his injuries. Two AMR ambulance crews also were involved.

A special single-wheeled stretcher was used to carry the man back up to High Drive.

Sabo said the man’s medical condition may have caused the accident, but the incident was under investigation by police.

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