Man rescued from San Francisco cliff

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SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU/BCN) -- A California Highway Patrol helicopter helped rescue a man trapped on a cliff above San Francisco's China Beach this afternoon, according to a San Francisco Fire Department spokesman.

At about 3 p.m., the fire department received a call about a man trapped on the cliff and sent rescue crews and paramedics to the area, said spokesman Jonathan Baxter.

Members of the rescue team located the man and used a rope system to get down to him and provide medical care, Baxter said.

As he was sprawled on the side of the cliff above China Beach, he hung on for dear life. He said he was scared, thinking he was going to be paralyzed or worse.

"I was going to either die or be in a wheel chair." He asked that we not use his name.

The man says he was walking along a pathway at Lands End using his GPS.

"I got to the end and I figured that was it, that was the end of the path. If I went any further I was going to go over the side."

He says the next thing he knew, he was trapped and for an hour and a half he was helpless.  As crews worked to rescue him and waves crashed against the shore below.  "I thought the only chance I had was to dive into the ocean. I thought that would be the only thing to save me if I do go over."

He suffered some minor injuries and is in stable condition but his precarious position on the cliff prompted fire officials to call in the CHP helicopter for the rescue.

A first responder strapped the man to a harness dangling from the helicopter. "I'm going to live. That's all I thought," he said. 

He was plucked from his perch at about 4:30 p.m., according to fire officials.

The two landed at the nearby San Francisco VA hospital. 

Happy to be alive, the man recalled another brush with death 10 years ago near Black Sand Beach in Sausalito.  That's when he says he was on another trail and not paying attention.  "I slid straight down. That's twice tempting fate. God must be with me." 

The man is recovering at home with minor bruises.

Footage of SF cliff rescue on KTVU's YouTube page