An alert group of hikers helped save a 77-year-old man who had driven his minivan off a cliff near Mount Tamalpais and was trapped at the bottom of the ravine Saturday afternoon.
Shortly after 4 p.m., the Marin County Fire Department received a report from a hiker of a vehicle accident off of Muir Woods Road just west of Panoramic Highway.
The man had lost control of his vehicle and driven off Muir Woods Road and down a steep ravine. Though injured and unable to make his way out of the ravine, the man remained conscious and called out for help.
A group of six hikers the nearby Dipsea Trail heard his cries and called 911. The group then split up with half heading towards the crashed vehicle and half to the road to flag help.
The first crews to arrive from the Throckmorton fire station found the driver of the vehicle approximately 150 feet over the side of the roadway.
A call had come in hours earlier about a car over the side, but crews couldn't find it due to the thick trees and brush.
The driver of the vehicle was in pain and extremely cold due to weather conditions.
Fire personnel had to use chain saws to cut through the brush to access the victim. The driver was evaluated and secured in a rescue basket and carried up to the roadway using a rope and pulley system.
"The hikers were very good. They stuck around for a while," said Marin County Fire Captain Ben Chisletta. "They actually asked before they left 'Do you need anything else from us?' So they did a wonderful job and possibly saved the man's life."
Paramedic firefighters from the Southern Marin Paramedic System transported the patient to Marin General Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Firefighters said the man might not have made it through the evening if he hadn't been rescued.
"Spending the night down there would have been extremely cold," said Chisletta. "With the elements, who knows? He might not have survived the night."
Multiple agencies contributed to the rescue effort including the Southern Marin Fire District, Marin County Sheriff's Department, Marin County Search and Rescue Team, Mill Valley Fire Department and the CHP.
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