Teenager airlifted out of remote accident site

He has a broken collar bone and a fractured neck, but 17-year-old Daniel Hopkins of Santa Barbara is glad to be alive after his Volvo plunged more than 250 feet down a steep embankment into heavy brush off of Old San Marcos Pass Road near Highway 154 just before 5 a.m. on Dec. 5.


Several rescue agencies responded when the call came in for a vehicle over the side at San Marcos Pass, said Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Eli Iskow. Hopkins called his mother after the accident, and she called the California Highway Patrol for help.


It took almost 20 minutes for emergency personnel to locate Hopkins because his car was covered by heavy brush. However, the teenager was able to guide rescuers to his location with his cell phone, Iskow said.



After two firefighters went over the side of the Pass using a rope system and found the vehicle, it was decided to use a helicopter hoist to extricate him, Iskow added. A rescue basket and a firefighter were lowered to the site by helicopter and by 7 a.m. Hopkins was on his way to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital.



He was later transported by ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.



“Once they found him it was a real quick search and rescue,” said California Highway Patrol Officer Daniel Barbara.



“They got him packaged up and airlifted him to the hospital,” Barbara said.



Emergency workers said Hopkins was wearing a seat belt and that it saved his life.



CHP spokesman Don Coltworthy said the Volvo S40 sedan was completely totaled and added, “Due to the location of the Volvo, it is not being recovered at this time.”


The cause of the crash is being investigated, but Coltworthy said neither alcohol nor drugs was involved.