Valley News -

Car plunges down hillside near Lake Elsinore, prompting rescue


Last updated 8/20/2019 at 6:22pm

LAKE ELSINORE - A motorist drove off the Ortega (74) Highway just west of Lake Elsinore on Tuesday, Aug. 20, plunging down a steep embankment in thick woods, where firefighters mounted a rescue operation.

The California Highway Patrol received the "vehicle-over-the-side report'' about 4:15 p.m. on the eastbound side of the 74, just below the Lookout Roadhouse turnoff, according to the agency.

Riverside County Fire Department crews began an hourlong search, unable to locate the car from the side of the highway because of dense vegetation in the Cleveland National Forest.

A sheriff's helicopter crew eventually spotted the back of the vehicle 400 feet below the highway, culminating in first responders preparing for a hoist rescue, according to reports from the scene.

About 5:25 p.m., CHP officers and sheriff's deputies began closing both sides of the highway, bringing rush-hour traffic to a halt, between South Main Divide Road to the west and Grand Avenue in Lake Elsinore to the east. The closure was intended to give firefighters adequate space to conduct the rescue safely, according to the fire department.

The operation was expected to be completed by 6:30 p.m.

There was no immediate word on why the motorist veered off the highway.


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