First responders detail the intense moments during dramatic Marin County cliff rescue

A man was stuck on a cliff in Marin County the evening of Easter. It could have ended in a tragedy, but thanks to the work of Sonoma Sheriffs helicopter unit, a young man from Louisiana walked away with no serious injuries. 

In sensational video recorded by deputy Larry Matelli, the tense and dramatic rescue happened off the cliffs in the Golden Gate National Recreational Area

Officials say Cody Cretini was dangling off a rock after he climbed up from the beach.

"I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t a little nervous," said Matelli.

The ‘Henry One’ helicopter unit made its way over from Santa Rosa to assist Southern Marin County firefighters. 

Once they arrived and set up, Pilot Nigel Cooper flew the chopper, while Matelli hung off a rope suspended 100 feet from the base of the helicopter. 

They said a night rescue like this is especially challenging.

"The first couple of times Larry touched the cliff, he lost his footing and the rocks crumbled away, so I had to kind of reposition him a little bit," said Cooper.

Cretini’s position on the side of the steep cliff made it more difficult. Matelli said he was hanging off by his toes and gripping the rock with his fingers.

"I had to get down on all fours to kind of lean on top of him because I was starting to slide too," Matelli said.

Matelli put the young man’s arms through a strap one by one, while the waves crashed against the shore and the helicopter’s rotor wash swung him around.

"You’re talking about inches, on the end of a 100-foot line," said Cooper. "You have the ocean ebbing in and out."

"The priority is to get him out of that situation, because if we don’t get him moved, even if he is injured, if we don’t move him, there’s likelihood that he could die there," Matelli added.

Once Matelli got hold of Cretini, they brought him to the top of the cliff where firefighters rendered aid.

Matelli can be heard in the video saying "I got you brother!" as he whisked him off the cliff and to the arms of firefighters.

"I talked to him immediately after the rescue, which was pretty cool, and you could just see the relief on his face," Cooper smiled. "I tried not to show too much relief on my face."

Cretini walked away with just a few scrapes and scratches. 

The rescuers credit their training and their teamwork.

"The fact that we train so much and work with each other so often, we understand the mannerisms, we can tell when something’s not going quite right," said Cooper.

KTVU hoped to speak with Cretini, but he was visiting from out of state and he was on a flight back home. 

The rescue team said they spoke Tuesday morning and he sincerely thanked them for their work.


Video: Man clinging to cliff rescued in Marin County

A man was rescued Sunday night after falling from a cliff in Marin County.