Saturday, October 3, 2009

Vehicle over The Infamous Garberville Bluff

Well, last night somebody drove off of the bluff and LIVED! Not one, but two lived. One of the guys walked down the river to get help for his trapped companion. I can't say who it was, or any pertinent details, because it would not be appropriate for me to do so. I was only there as a rescue person. But, I guess that I can tell you it was two 20-30 yr old males. Only two occupants.

The view above is Garberville looking toward the North-East. The bottom view is a zoom of the bluff. The bluff is often referred to as "The two-hundred foot bluff." But, if I were to guess, I would say that it is only 173-3/4 feet to the bottom. The bluff is a shear 90 deg angle straight down. I should tell you that the bluff is much, much taller than the view shown. The view above is merely a Google Earth projected image of what the terain might look like. As you can see, the bridge across the freeway seems to barely clear the roadbed. But, it's a quick way to come up with a photo. The coordinates are at the bottom of the picture if you want to take Google Earth to get there.

There is a guard rail that protects traffic from going off the bluff. There was a white van parked at the south end of the guard rail. The accident happened at about 2:00 AM. The vehicle that went over the bluff was coming from the north, up the hill into Garberville. He rear-ended the parked vehicle hard enough to knock it clear across the Redwood Drive and into the bank by the southbound off-ramp. The vehicle with the two occupants was then deflected over the bluff, eventually to end up as a crumpled ball at the bottom of the bluff, upside down in the river, between a rock and the river bank. Rescue personnel removed the trapped occupant, placed him in a stokes litter, packed him through the river and on to the west side. He was then transported to the ambulance in the back of a four wheel drive pick-up truck.

The other occupant had waked to the ambulance area to get help at the homeless camp that is at the mouth of Bear Canyon. He was not it great shape, but he was able to get help. He was badly chilled after wading the river. I'm sure he will be in great pain this morning!

I was not the med-tech, so I don't know how badly injured they were, but after a 175 foot fall, they had to be hurting. Time will tell.


Dave said...

Wow! it's a miracle that they are both alive.

Great "on-the-spot" coverage Ernie.

I like how you showed the whole area and described it.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I know this is not my usual “historical” post, but it does involve “the South Fork of the Eel River, and the people that live there.”

This is actually pretty historical, these are the first human beings that I know of to go over that bluff and live.

Ernie Branscomb said...

New update. The latest rumor on the street is that the driver was only fifteen.

They looked older than that. I guess that a person can age conciderably by going over a two-hundred foot bluff.


good thing the river wasn't bank full!!

ERNIE,whats those green areas west of the river off of bear creek road???


Ernie Branscomb said...

Sewer ponds. If you look in the bottom right of the zoomed photo, you can see an overhead sewer line that was put in "temporarily" after the '64 flood.

AJ said...

Wow! Thank science they survived. Inside a vehicle compartment there is usually "room to live" if you wear your shoulder belt.

Anonymous said...

Ross, some people used to call that green area Hippie Lake. It looks like there are more ponds so maybe that is saying something.
It seems like there was another vehicle went off that bank but I do remember a truck that went over the side. It came through Garberville and did a half flip on the way down. That was before the freeway.



my first guess was sewer ponds!!!but figured i'd be wrong!

i remember once in awhile,someone would go into the river between REDWAY and GARBERVILLE.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the time in the early 60's when my dad was delivering fuel to a logging site near Island Mtn when the right side of the wooden bridge over Chemise Creek collapsed under him. His truck landed upside down in the creek. He crawled out unhurt, somehow. Luckily, when the truck was crushed cab-first on impact, the windshield and side windows shattered and burst outward instead of inward or he would've been sliced to ribbons. (No safety glass in those days, just glass shards.) Diesel fuel being far less explosive than gasoline, he gave thanks for was the fact he wasn't hauling gas. As an 8-year-old, I was a witness to dad's accident, and was standing on the far end of the bridge as he attempted to cross. Though his truck was always under the legal weight limit, he said he never trusted that bridge, and always opted to ford the creek through a pair of gates on either side, as the much heavier logging trucks did. For whatever reason, those gates were locked that day and left my dad no choice but to use the bridge. Before crossing, he had me get out of the truck, walk across and wait for him on the far side, as if he'd had a premonition. I can still hear the timbers groaning and see the planks pried upward in a thick cloud of dust as the bridge collapsed.
As my dad & I were gathering ourselves on the creek bank, a log truck driver in a black & white truck with "Shuster's" painted on the door had made its way down the mountain and stopped. The driver got out with a crowbar and pried the locks off the creek gates so that he could cross. Until he died years later, my dad lamented the fact that he didn't do the same thing.
(Not trying to overshadow your own story, Ernie, just had my memories nudged, that's all. Good job relating your experience.)

Anonymous said...

Ernie, ever given thought to an article about hidden areas that only locals know about? (assuming the rest of the locals won't rise up and come to your house with torches for telling).

I spent a lot of time in the Garberville/Benbow area during my summers when I was young...I remember a lot of hidden swimming holes and secret trails.

Kay Lodahl said...

Wow, does that jangle some memory banks! Those guys were so lucky.. I have memory of my mother and I sitting at a stop sign on Locust St waiting to enter the main drag. We hear this funny noise, which we learned later, to be an air horn out of air. People were waving us not to go!! A few seconds later, a big crane went whizzing by us and headed straight for that bluff on the north side of town. He went over!!! I was so shook up about it, I started to cry (I think I was about 10 or 12 years old). A big mushroom cloud rose from the bluff like a hydrogen bomb.
We learned later that the man's brakes had gone out on the South side of town, he rode the crane all the way through town in hopes of keeping it from killing someone and at the end, he jumped before it went over and survived with a broken leg. This was about 1961 or 62... Thanks for posting your information. That bluff will always have a bad memory for me... And those two young men, I am sure.

Anonymous said...

a broken face and a few staples to close his head. not to mention the gnarly concussion and now obvious memory loss and emotional scars...for the driver. the passenger was just a little bruised and scratched. this day will forever be imprinted in my mind. <3