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Video shows dramatic helicopter rescue after vehicle plunged into California canyon

The survivors alerted authorities using iPhone technology in an area with notoriously bad cellphone service, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.

Authorities say it's a miracle two people had only minor injuries after their vehicle plunged hundreds of feet off the road and into a canyon Tuesday in California.

A man and a woman in their early 20s fell about 300 feet when their vehicle veered off the road into Monkey Canyon in Angeles National Forest, about 30 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. John Gilbert said.

The area is notorious for poor cellphone service, but the pair, who were in a Hyundai, were able to alert authorities where they were with iPhone 14 SOS technology that communicated their latitude and longitude to rescuers, Gilbert said, adding that they also used two-way messaging.

“It’s a miracle in several senses,” Gilbert said. “Nearly all of the vehicles that go over the side of the road in that particular area turn out to be fatalities. For them to survive the crash — is a miracle.

“The fact they had a piece of technology that survived the crash and it worked as advertised and got rescue to them in a timely manner is another miracle.”

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department rescued two people after their car plunged hundreds of feet into Monkey Canyon.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department rescued two people Tuesday after their car plunged hundreds of feet into Monkey Canyon.Special Enforcement Bureau - LASD

Apple says the iPhone 14 is capable of alerting emergency services using satellites when there is no cellular or Wi-Fi coverage. The service is free for two years after a device is activated.

Had it not been for the smartphone technology, Gilbert said, the two risked hypothermia, because temperatures were expected to drop into the 30s overnight.

“It could have been very likely they would have to spend a cold, wet night,” Gilbert said.

The man and the woman were hoisted into a rescue helicopter. They had minor injuries, Gilbert said, and were taken to a hospital to be examined out of precaution.

The sheriff’s department’s Special Enforcement Bureau tweeted dramatic video and photos of the rescue.

Gilbert said the teams who work in the rescue helicopter are “truly amazing people.”

They generally work with the department’s SWAT team as paramedics but also search for people who are lost, stranded and hurt in remote areas, Gilbert said.