June 06, 2004

Tragedy in Bird Rock

(UPDATE) 16-yr-old Driver Dies in Mercedes As It Goes Over Cliff and Crashes on Rocks At Ocean

It happened around 630pm, right after dinner. We started to hear one of those big rescue choppers out over the ocean, along with sirens galore from police and rescue vehicles.

First thought: surfer or diver rescue.

Not this time.

We went and looked out back down to the ocean and we could see the helicopter slowly circling over Bird Rock neighborhood. Then, there were more and more sirens. This was something very unusual. More and more sirens kept arriving.

I drove down the hill to investigate. Large crowds, growing larger. The helicopter was very low. I noticed there was a rescuer precariously dangling from a cable underneath the helicopter.

It's difficult to see in the picture (all photos taken with cheesy wide-angle, low-resolution digital camera) but the helicopter was directly overhead and very close. There was a strong wind created by the downdraft of the chopper's blades.

Onlookers peer around the edge of a cliff, at the end of Forward St., one street down from the alley where the accident occurred.

Turns out someone driving a Mercedes drove down the Chelsea Place alley, which dead-ends right above the ocean, and apparently the car went through the dead-end, right over the cliff, smashed into a concrete level some 20-30 feet down, flipped over, landed on its roof, crushed roof, flipped again, and landed down on the rocks by the water.

Later I spotted an old neighbor friend who lives right near the site, and he had been one of the first on the scene. He told me all of the airbags had deployed i n the Mercedes (he said it was a year or two old -- a new model) and he said the recue worker dangling from the helicopter had yelled in code that the driver of the crashed vehicle didn't make it, which explained why the copter pulled the rescuer back up and then flew away.

Over on Dolphin Place, people were breaking into two construction sites to go over to the cliff to look south and see the wreck. A news reporter and his cameraman emerge from the construction site, telling people not to go in there as the owner is furious people are trespassing (um, they trespassed to get their footage -- film at 11 no doubt).
Cops and rescue personnel and neighbors all over the place. Another oceanfront lot on Dolphin that folks had broken into. One guy was still holding his glass of white wine as he climbed through the fence.

I'll add a link from the San Diego news sites once they um, get some sort of story up online.

UPDATE -- The local TV news just came on and said there were FOUR people in the car --- apprently all young people. A 16-year-old girl was driving, and apparently she made a mistake and put the car into drive instead of reverse and drove through the dead-end fence and over the cliff. Apparently the three passengers were able to get out but the driver wasn't, and she didn't make it.

UPDATE II -- The San Diego Union finally has a story up on their site.

UPDATE III -- 9 June -- More details emerge on the accident and the 16-yr-old girl who died, in this San Diego Union story.

Posted by brian at June 6, 2004 09:04 PM | TrackBack


In the office yesterday I overheard a coworker state that the 16yo driver was his son's girlfriend. I was suddenly uncomfortable with the social proximity of the tragedy (don't want to know someone who knows someone who died) as well as that it had become the subject of office gossip.

Posted by: Justin at June 8, 2004 08:46 AM

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