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Video: Rescuers in helicopter save driver who crashed into Pacific Ocean

A view of the Pacific Ocean at Patrick's Point State Park near Trinidad, California. (Dreamstime/TNS)
June 15, 2023

A recent video from Ventura County, California, demonstrates the commitment first responders have to saving lives in the call of duty. 

Posted to Twitter by the official Ventura County Fire Department’s account, the clip shows a rocky shoreline and choppy water below as the Ventura County Air Unit lowers a stretcher to rescue swimmers as they retrieve a driver who had crashed into the ocean. 

Once safely harnessed, the unidentified woman is lifted to the helicopter and transported to LPS Robles Regional Medical Center. 

No cause for the crash has been released and the incident is currently under investigation, although drugs and alcohol were not suspected as a factor. The driver reportedly suffered major injuries in the accident but was expected to recover. 

According to Ventura County Star, the woman was traveling northbound in a 2002 Mercedes-Benz CLK when she failed to negotiate a turn in the roadway and “drove straight over the cliff” at around 1 p.m. just north of Yerba Buena Road. 

Brian McGrath, Ventura County Fire Department Captain, said that the driver was able to free herself from her vehicle and climb on top of the car following the accident. 

While ground crews responded to the scene, conditions prevented a ground recovery. Rescue swimmers were reportedly in the water for approximately 15 minutes. Following the rescue, the Mercedes was also recovered by the California Highway Patrol.

READ MORE: FDNY veteran drowned in rescue attempt of daughter was passionate about saving lives

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Aviation Unit was established in 1971, joining into a partnership with the Ventura County Fire Department in 2009.  

Operating as the only public safety unit in the county, the aviation team provides support for all local and state law enforcement and fire services. 

The crew consists of four full-time and one part-time pilot, four full-time crew chiefs and 12 part-time chiefs and four maintenance personnel. The crew chiefs are trained rescue specialists, emergency medical technicians and law enforcement observers with specialties in scuba diving and swift water rescue. 

The helicopter in the video appears to be the new 2002 Bell 412EPX, purchased by the department late last year. The helicopter is equipped with four blades and dual engines, making it ideal for search and rescue missions that require airlifting of patients as these features increase stability.