Man rescued after 20 hours on Lands End cliff 

A 63-year-old man spent a frigid and rainy night clinging to the cliffs at Lands End with a fractured bone before he was discovered by hikers and rescued by a helicopter.

The man had fallen from a bluff on the northeastern end of the Lands End Coastal Trail around 4:30 p.m. Monday, but was unable to attract any help until almost noon the next day, when hikers finally heard his cries for help, fire and park officials reported.

Because he couldn’t walk, he crawled as far up the bluff as he could and huddled against the cold rain and wind, according to National Park Service Ranger George Durgerian.

The Fire Department responded and managed to send rescuers down to the man, about 50 feet above the waves, said Greg Norrgard, a California Highway Patrol flight officer and paramedic. Because the cliff was so steep, the CHP rescue helicopter responded to the incident.

Fire responders treated the man for hypothermia and what appeared to be a fractured leg bone, said Fire Department Lt. Mindy Talmadge.

The helicopter arrived before 2 p.m., and despite the fact that it had to battle high winds, it managed to hoist the man — who had already been placed on a litter — into the helicopter, Norrgard said. Then, it landed for a moment at the nearby Veterans Administration hospital to better situate the man before lifting off again and carrying him to the John Muir Trauma Center in Contra Costa County. That trip took a mere nine minutes, Norrgard said.

Fire officials identified the man as homeless, and Durgerian said the man was a “regular” at Lands End. Durgerian said the incident is yet another reminder to stay away from the cliffs.

“Unfortunately, [falling off cliffs] is a regular occurrence there,” he said. “People always think they’re never gonna fall, and they always do. Considering [this man] spent the night in very cold weather when it was raining very hard, he is very fortunate to be alive.”


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