Women survives seven days after her SUV plunges off a cliff
This 23-year-old US woman’s story of survival has been dubbed nothing short of miraculous.
Angela Hernandez, a musician from Oregon, had been driving to her sister’s home in Lancaster near Los Angeles on 6 July when a small animal crossed in front of her, causing her to swerve and lose control of her car.
According to a CNN report, her white Jeep veered off the edge of a cliff and crashed about 76 metres below, where the ocean meets a rocky beach that’s largely isolated from those driving above it.
Earlier that fateful Friday Angela was spotted on surveillance camera in her vehicle at a petrol station near Carmel, California, and her family only became concerned when they couldn’t reach her later that afternoon.
According to Monterey county sheriff Steve Bernal, rescue crews had searched the area – where Angela was eventually discovered – and found no obvious signs that a car had driven off the cliff, reports Daily Mail.
The heavy fog which descended on the Californian coast may have made it more difficult for first responders to spot her and the wreckage, John Thornburg, spokesperson for the sheriff's office, told The Washington Post.
After a week the family had all but given up – their beloved Angela had disappeared without a trace.
But seven days after her mysterious disappearance – on 13 June – news broke that she’d been found on a remote Californian beach by a couple hiking in the area.
Two days after her miraculous rescue Angela took to Facebook to give an account of the harrowing seven days she spent waiting on the remote beach to be rescued.
“The only thing I really remember after that was waking up,” she wrote of the moments immediately after her near-fatal crash. “I was still in my car and I could feel water rising over my knees. My head hurt and when I touched it, I found blood on my hands.”
She recalled that her car’s windows were rolled up.
“I took off my seatbelt and found a multi-tool I kept near my front seat,” she wrote in the post. “I started hitting the driver’s side window with it. Every bone in my body hurt.”
Once the window was broken she jumped into the water and swam until she reached the shore, she added. Then she passed out, but she doesn’t know for how long.
“When I woke up, it was still daylight and it was only then that I’d finally realised what had happened,” she wrote.
“I stood up onto my feet and noticed a huge pain in my shoulders, hips, back, and thighs. I saw nothing but rocks, the ocean and a cliff that I knew I’d never be able to look over. I could see my car not too far from me, half washed up on shore with the roof ripped off of it.”
According to Angela, the next few days were a blur.
She’d walk the beach searching for people, climb rocks to avoid “the sharp sand” and walk the shore to avoid hot rocks. She found a high spot where she could climb every day in hope of catching the attention of cars driving across the cliff. She says she’d stay at that high spot until “the sun became unbearable.”
“I felt like if I could yell just loud enough, that one could hear or see me,” she wrote. “That’s all it would take to make it back to my family.”
Angela began feeling the effects of dehydration about three days after the crash, she said in the post.
“By this point the back of my jeans were torn apart, my socks were nothing but holes,” she wrote.
She went back to her car to salvage her belongings and found a radiator hose that she kept in her pocket.
She used the hose to siphon fresh water dripping down the moss on the cliffs from a natural spring, sheriff Steve Bernal, told CNN after the rescue had been made.
“Songs I hadn’t heard in years would play on repeat inside of my head,” Angela wrote in the moving social media post. “I’d daydream of foods I’d get to eat once I was found and imagined the face of the person who’d eventually find me.”
That person – or people – turned out to be Chelsea Moore (34) and her husband Chad (31) of Morro Bay, California. The pair were camping above an ocean-side cliff in the rugged Big Sur area of Monterey County. They decided to climb down a cliff to a remote beach to find some good surfing and fishing spots, according to TIME.
“We’re avid beachcombers. We get excited about sea glass and abalone shells,” Chelsea said.
Instead they came upon a car bumper and a short time later spotted a rusty and wrecked Jeep, so the couple took the license plate to show authorities.
Chelsea says that they both agreed that there weren’t survivors, but walked further along the beach just in case.
After walking almost 500m they heard a cry for help, and then another. Then they saw Angela.
“She was really happy and she wasn’t sure we were real,” Chelsea said. “She told us we were the first people she’d seen in days but she didn’t know how many days exactly. We told her we were going to help her and get her off that beach.”
A disorientated Angela had two black eyes and burst blood vessels in her eyes.
“She was very wet. At high tide there’s no beach. She said sometimes she’d been sleeping and she’d wake up at night with waves smacking her.”
Hours later rescuers were able to take Angela back up the cliff and fly her via helicopter to a hospital.
“We’re just really lucky beachcombers,” Chelsea said. “She’s the hero.”
“She told us she wants to name her kids after us,” Chelsea says. “We’re like equally in awe of each other. It’s kind of cool.”
Doctors later informed Angela that she suffered a brain haemorrhage in the first few days of her crash. She also had four fractured ribs, a collapsed lung, broken blood vessels in both eyes, a fractured collar bone and intense sunburn to her hands, feet and face.
She says, despite her injuries the experience has given her a life-changing perspective.
“I feel like I have everything I’ve ever wanted. I’m sitting here in the hospital, laughing with my sister until she makes broken bones hurt.”
“I’ve met some of the most beautiful human beings that I think I’ll ever meet in my entire life. I’ve experienced something so unique and terrifying that I can’t imagine there isn’t a bigger purpose for me in this life.”
“I don’t know, you guys, life is incredible,” she concluded.