Two adults and two children, 4 and 9 years old, were rescued from a Tesla that fell 250 feet off a cliff Monday morning in San Mateo County, California, authorities said.
The car was traveling south on Pacific Coast Highway when it fell off the cliff at Devil’s Slide, south of the Tom Lantos Tunnel, landing near the water’s edge below, the Cal Fire San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit said.
The car flipped over and landed on its wheels in the fall, said Brian Pottenger, incident commander for CAL FIRE/Coastside Fire. Witnesses saw the accident and called 911.
When the crews got down to the crash site, they could see movement in the front seat, through their binoculars, meaning someone was alive.
“We were actually quite surprised when we found surviving victims in the vehicle. So, that was a really hopeful moment for us,” Pottenger said.
He told NBC News that it is “very, very rare” for there to be survivors of such a steep drop. “It’s quite common for us to drive vehicles off these cliffs” in the area south of Devil’s Slide, she added.
Firefighters called in helicopters to help lift the survivors to safety. While they waited, firefighters descended on the scene and rescued the two children.
Pottenger said both children were in car seats that “saved their lives.”
“The car seats really did their job. Amazingly, they stayed in place. They were intact and undamaged,” he said.
The California Highway Patrol shared video on social media showing helicopters lowering first responders to the scene to pull out and rescue two adults inside.
Pottenger said that children and adults alike were “grateful that we were there.”
All four were hospitalized at Stanford Medical Center.
Pottenger said the children suffered some minor musculoskeletal injuries and the adults suffered moderate traumatic injuries to various areas of the body. All were awake and conscious when they were taken to the hospital.
It is unclear what caused the car to go off the cliff. CHP is handling the investigation.
CHP said they do not believe the vehicle was in self-driving mode.