A man who was thrown from his crashed truck was trapped in a 100-foot-high Southern California ravine for five days until a passerby said last week he noticed the wreckage and heard cries for help.
The Kern County Fire Department responded to Comanche Point Road outside Bakersfield the morning of Sept. 2 after a caller reported an injured man at the bottom of a 100-foot cliff. The man “has been lying at the bottom of the gorge unable to move since Tuesday, August 29th.”
His “severely damaged” pickup truck was also at the bottom of the ravine, the department said.
The department set up a “rope rescue system” to lower four firefighters into the ravine. Firefighters then secured the man in a basket before carefully bringing him to safety.
He was then flown to a nearby hospital, according to the Kern County Fire Department.
Cory Sizelove, 50, and his friend decided to take a morning ride on their motorcycles when they saw the truck at the bottom of the canyon.
“I parked my motorcycle and took my helmet off, then I could hear him down there screaming for help,” Sizelove said. “But I still couldn’t see where he was because he wasn’t in the truck because he had been thrown out in the accident.”
They eventually spotted the man about 30 to 40 feet from the wrecked vehicle, Sizelove said Thursday in an interview with “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.” Sizelove rode his bike down the embankment while his friend called 911.
He said it was a miracle that he and his friend were able to find the man.
“I was shocked and really surprised and amazed that someone experienced this because … I was just praying that I wouldn’t find someone who died,” Sizelove said, “because it’s just pretty far down.”
The first thing the man asked for, according to Sizelove, was water. The man then asked to call his wife.
Sizelove said he did his best not to move the man and to shield him from the sun as they waited for help to arrive. The man did not appear to be bleeding but complained of back pain, he said.
“He was able to sit there and hold his head in his hands and support it a little bit,” Sizelove said. “And that was the best thing he could do to just stay immobile.”
The driver, Calvin Smith, identified himself in an interview with KTLA on Wednesday and said his truck went down an embankment.
He told the news station he suffered a broken back and ribs and was unable to move before help arrived.
“I kept asking God, ‘Please don’t let me die out here,'” Smith told KTLA. “It was freezing cold at night and burning hot during the day.”
Smith did not immediately respond to requests for comment from NBC News on Thursday.