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One dead, one injured after car plunges off Lake Hughes Road

Man rescued after being trapped at bottom of ravine since Friday

Posted: March 16, 2014 10:27 p.m.
Updated: March 16, 2014 10:27 p.m.

Members of the sheriff's Search and Rescue Team, along with county fire responders, rappel down a ravine to a damaged truck in which one man was killed and another injured after a crash Friday evening north of Castaic. Photo courtesy of Jeff Zimmerman - Zimmerman Media LLC.


One man is dead and another “glad to be alive” after they both plunged 400 feet down a ravine in a pickup truck Friday night and were found 36 hours later, an investigator with the California Highway Patrol said.

The driver of the GMC Sierra pickup truck is believed to be a 64-year-old man who was found dead at the scene, said CHP Sgt. Mike Logie. The survivor, believed to be a passenger in the same vehicle, is a 39-year-old Pacoima man.
“He’s seems pretty good,” Logie said. “He said he’s happy to be here.”

At about 7:45 p.m. Friday, the truck went over the side of a cliff on Lake Hughes Road, near Warm Springs Road, he said.

It wasn’t until Sunday, at about 7:30 a.m., when CHP learned about the crash.

“A passerby noticed skid marks on the road and phoned the CHP,” Logie said. “We got the call at about 8 o’clock.”

“The survivor broke his hip and his sternum,” he said.

Paramedics with the Los Angeles County Fire Department — with the help of Santa Clarita Search and Rescue — took the injured man to Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, Logie said.

“We transported one patient,” said Fire Department Inspector Bernard Peters. “He apparently had been down there at the bottom of the ravine since Friday.”

In an email sent to The Signal, freelance photographer Jeff Zimmerman said: “It took several hours to get the victims extricated from the wreckage. 

“Upon arrival of the CHP officer, he could hear someone calling for help in the creek bottom. 

“He could see a vehicle that had plunged some 250 over a steep cliff along Lake Hughes Road,” Zimmerman wrote in his email. “The vehicle was over-turned on its side, resting precariously along a rock out-cropping.

“One occupant had self-extricated himself from the wreckage and was drinking creek water to survive,” he wrote.

On Sunday, at about 3 p.m., investigators with the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Department were dispatched to the scene of the fatal crash, said spokesman Fred Corral.

“He’s still out there,” Corral said at 4 p.m. Sunday.

Zimmerman, who photographed the ravine rescue, told The Signal in his email: “It appears by the skid marks that the vehicle was traveling south bound on Lake Hughes Road, struck an embankment and then careened over the cliff landing in a stream bed at the bottom of a very steep drainage.” 

Emergency crews are familiar with the winding stretch of Lake Hughes Road east of Interstate 5.

In September 2011, David La Vau was found six days after his car had plunged down in a 200-foot-deep ravine on Lake Hughes Road, near Warm Springs Road.

His car came to rest next to another car, with a driver who was not so fortunate.

Melvin Gelfand, 88, died in a crash at the same place on Lake Hughes Road when his car also plunged into the ravine.
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