Grand Canyon crash victim survives plummet

Grand Canyon crash: a man drove his car over the edge of the Grand Canyon but was saved by a tree 200 feet down.

By , Associated Press

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    Grand Canyon crash: A view from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, in Grand Canyon, Ariz., Jan. 10, 2009. A man drove off the the edge of the Grand Canyon, but lived to tell about it, authorities say.
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National Park Service rangers were trying to figure out Wednesday how a man's car left a roadway and plunged into the Grand Canyon, narrowly avoiding a fatal free-fall to the bottom of the gorge.

The car ended up lodged against a tree about 200 feet below the South Rim of the canyon, Grand Canyon National Park spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge said. Another precipice began just 10 feet beyond where the man's car stopped.

A park visitor reported finding the injured 21-year-old man along a stretch of Desert View Drive at about 7:45 p.m. Monday. The man told the visitor he had accidently driven his vehicle over the edge of the canyon.

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He told responding park rangers that he had extricated himself from the crashed vehicle and climbed up to the rim to seek help.

The driver was treated at Flagstaff Medical Center for non-life threatening injuries, Oltrogge said. She declined to release the man's identity or hometown until park rangers have finished their investigation.

The crash happened about 6 miles east of the Grand Canyon Village near a spot known as Twin Overlooks.

The man's car was still at the scene on Wednesday and park officials were beginning to develop a plan to retrieve it, Oltrogge said. In similar cases, officials have used a heavy lift helicopter to pull out vehicles that have driven off the canyon's edge.

Such accidents are rare, and some have involved attempted or actual suicides, although authorities would not say if they suspected that in Monday's crash.

A California man intentionally drove his car off the canyon's edge in July 2009 from the parking lot of the famed El Tovar Hotel. In December, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report cited the Grand Canyon as second in the nation among national parks for suicides. The CDC report cited 11 suicides and 10 attempts between 2003 and 2009 at the park along the Arizona-Utah line.

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