JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Two people were hurt after their vehicle fell 100 feet into a ditch off Highway 285 on Saturday. The crash happened about three miles south of C-470.
A technical rescue team with West Metro Fire Rescue pulled the vehicle out. One person was taken to the hospital via a Flight for Life helicopter.
“I don’t know how they survived,” said Ed Gaffrey, firefighter and paramedic for West Metro Fire Station 14. “They almost ramped off the road, and then hit the grade and rolled the rest of the way. Quite a ways down. Probably about 200, 250 feet off the road.”
When firefighters first arrived on scene, they were shocked to see a female passenger was able to walk herself most of the way up the side of the hill.
Station 14’s Technical Rescue Team has thousands of hours in ropes training. The training would be used in action this weekend to rescue the seriously injured male driver who was still at the bottom of the incline.
“He was too critical to self-ascent up the hill,” said Dean Karamigios, firefighter and paramedic for West Metro Fire. “The terrain was 45-50 degrees, with loose soil and loose rock.”
After sending the female patient to the hospital via ambulance, the team spent about 20 minutes setting up their rescue of the male driver.
“Setting up the rope system in that type of terrain, to get a patient out, can take quite a bit of time,” Karamigios said.
The team used a spinal support system, and basket, to carry the driver back up the hill to safety.
“He was not in good shape. He took a pretty good beating,” Gaffrey said.
“I was surprised they were alive,” said Chris McCullen, West Metro Fire Captain.
The man was airlifted to the hospital with serious injuries. The highway was temporarily shut down while the rescue was completed.
Firefighters said most of the roadway was lined with barriers to prevent such a crash. However, they said the one small opening there was is where the driver drove off the roadway.
“They were extremely lucky. Very few people that I have seen in my career survive a car accident like that. Probably none,” McCullen said.