Rescue teams responded around 4:40 p.m. local time to the crash on the narrow, winding Yankee Jims Road in Colfax, located outside Sacramento, Cal Fire’s Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit said.
The occupants included a 20-year-old male driver, an 18-year-old male in the front passenger seat and three 16-year-old girls in the backseat, FOX40 Sacramento reported.
None of the five occupants were wearing their seatbelts, and they were thrown from the vehicle, which overturned several times as it plummeted, California Highway Patrol said. Officials released pictures of the crushed and crumbling SUV wedged between rocks and trees at the bottom of the canyon.
“Absolute miracle. It was a total miracle that they all survived,” Cal Fire Capt. Chris Baldoni told FOX40.
One victim managed to climb back up the road and wave down a passing car for help, Baldoni said.
The rescue lasted several hours as crews had to set up multiple rope systems to pull the victims up one by one from the canyon, officials said. One victim was airlifted while the others were driven to trauma centers with moderate to major injuries.
The 20-year-old driver was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, police said.