Man survives after driving van off California cliff, plunging into Pacific Ocean

A man miraculously survived after driving a van off a Northern California cliff and plummeting nearly 150 feet into the Pacific Ocean on Friday, officials said.

The California Highway Patrol said the driver, a man in his 30s, was driving south on Highway 1 before 8 a.m. when he drifted onto the shoulder and went off the cliff at Montara State Beach, located about 15 miles south of San Francisco.

"It's pretty incredible he's still alive," CHP spokesman Officer Vu Williams told the San Francisco Chronicle.

After falling into the ocean, the man was able to get out of the mangled vehicle on his own and crawl onto the rocks.

Car Over Cliff 1

The crushed remains of a van after a man drove off a cliff in Northern California on Friday and plunged into the Pacific Ocean. (KTVU)

As television news helicopters hovered overhead, a firefighter could be seen rappelling down the cliff to reach the man on the rocks below as waves pounded the area.


The man eventually walked to the firefighter, and was lifted up in a harness before being taken to a waiting ambulance. The CHP said in a news release the man was taken to the hospital and treated for non life-threatning injuries.

Cliff Rescue 1

A man is rescued after plunging nearly 150 feet off a cliff in Northern California on Friday. (California Highway Patrol)

Williams told the Chronicle the crash was likely "operator error," as the man was not under the influence of a controlled substance and hadn’t fallen asleep.


The area where the crash happened was near Devil's Slide, a rocky area with eroded slopes. The CHP said the incident served as a reminder to motorists to be wary when in the area.

Car Over Cliff 2

The man was able to get out the vehicle on his own, and crawl onto the rocks to wait for rescuers. (KGO)

"This is a good reminder that if you are traveling along the Highway 1 area south of Devil’s Slide to only pull off the roadway at designated parking areas to take in the view and to please heed the signs indicating no stopping," the agency said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.