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Minutes apart, two drivers go over edge in Big Sur, and live

By CHRIS COUNTS

Published: January 22, 2010

BIG SUR’S “West of One Club” has three new members, and remarkably, none of them appears to have suffered serious injuries.

About 10 a.m. Sunday, a driver lost control of his full-sized Chevy pickup near Radio Point, five miles south of Gorda, and plunged off Highway 1, coming to rest about 600 feet down a hillside. A passing motorist called 911 after seeing smoke, according to Highway Patrol spokesman Robert Lehman. The driver was treated for minor injuries at Sierra Vista Hospital in San Luis Obispo.

“He might not think so, but it was his lucky day,” said Martha Karstens, chief of the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade. “It’s amazing someone saw him down there.”

In addition to the CHP and the local fire brigade, the Monterey County Sheriff and Cal Fire responded to the accident.

Less than 30 minutes later, another driver lost control of his 1993 Isuzu Rodeo just south of Bixby Bridge and landed about 120 feet beyond Highway 1 in a field. Lehman said the driver and a passenger complained of pain, but there was no report they sought medical treatment.

The CHP and Mid-Coast Fire Brigade responded to the second accident.

No charges have been filed yet in either accident, and it is unknown if wet weather was a factor. Karstens said conditions were foggy when she arrived at Radio Point.

Lehman was happy nobody was seriously hurt. “That’s pretty incredible,” he said. “We don’t see it very often.”

For decades, some motorists who survived car accidents west of Highway 1 in Big Sur have claimed membership in the West of One Club.