A young driver has taken extraordinary measures to stay alive after her car plunged more than 60 metres down a coastal cliff in California, leaving her trapped for an entire week.
Angela Hernandez, 23, of Portland was found by a pair of hikers on Friday evening after they saw her wrecked Jeep Patriot SUV partially submerged at the bottom of the cliff in the Big Sur area, said Monterey County Sheriff’s Office spokesman John Thornburg.
Her disappearance captured widespread attention after she and her vehicle were last seen on a surveillance camera video at a Carmel gas station on July 6, about 80 kilometres north of the stretch of Highway 1 where she was found.
The hikers discovered Hernandez conscious, breathing and with a shoulder injury, Thornburg said.
Rescuers managed to get her up the cliff and to a helicopter which flew her to a nearby hospital.
Hernandez told investigators she swerved to avoid hitting an animal on Highway 1 on July 6 and plunged over the cliff north of Nacimiento Fergusson Road.
She stayed alive “by drinking water from the radiator of her vehicle,” according to the Highway Patrol.
She was in fair and stable condition but appeared to have suffered a concussion during the collision, the California Highway Patrol said in a statement.
“It’s usually the fall that gets them, or the ocean that gets them, and she was lucky to survive both,” Thornburg added.
Hernandez was on a road trip from her home in Portland to visit her sister Isabel in Lancaster, Los Angeles County, when she crashed.
“My sister survived 7 days alone 200ft down a cliff on HW1,” her sister Isabel Hernandez said in a Facebook post on Saturday.
“This is very traumatic and will be a slow recovery process.”