Rescuers respond to car over a cliff, no occupants found

A Los Angeles County Fire Department truck moves quickly to scene.
A Los Angeles County Fire Department truck moves quickly to scene. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

First responders, including a rescue helicopter crew, investigated reports of a car seen going over a cliff in the Grapevine on Tuesday, but found no occupants at the crash site.

The solo-vehicle crash happened shortly after 8:05 a.m. on the northbound lanes of Interstate 5, where a gray Dodge Charger was seen leaving the roadway, going over the side and down an embankment more than 100 feet, Officer Eric Preissman of the California Highway Patrol said.

“A male and female were seen fleeing from the vehicle,” he said, noting the couple appeared to be Hispanic, ages unknown. The man reportedly wore a black sweatshirt and the woman, a red sweatshirt.

Investigators are following up on reports the couple was seen throwing a bag out of the car before the crash.

“Officers would have looked for the bag,” Preissman said, noting no bag was reported found.

Emergency efforts to rescue the occupants went into effect at 8:24 a.m., when paramedics with the Los Angeles County Fire Department were dispatched to the crash, Fire Department spokesman Marvin Lim said. No one appeared to be at the scene when paramedics arrived around 8:43 a.m.

“There were no patients,” Lim said, adding they’d left the scene by 9:11 a.m.

Before they called off the search, rescue crews combed the rugged terrain on the east side of the freeway for any sign of the couple. They found a breach in the perimeter fence just north of Gorman Creek Road, but no sign of the couple.

A helicopter search was also unsuccessful, Preissman said.

Paramedics and the rescue helicopter left the scene, but CHP officers kept looking for the car’s occupants.

“The search has since been called off. At this time, the only violation they would have would be fleeing the scene of a collision,” he said.

Tow truck operators responding to the crash were advised to bring at least 100 feet of cable. At 9:45 a.m., however, they learned that 500 feet of cable was required to retrieve the car.

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