Man survives plunge off cliff after SUV crashes through rail, lands in ocean

National and World

CARLSBAD, Calif. (KSWB) – A man was hospitalized Tuesday afternoon after crashing his SUV through a guardrail and over the side of a cliff into the ocean in Carlsbad, California.

The crash happened around 5:15 p.m. when the man was driving westbound on Palomar Airport Road, according to Kevin Lynds, a battalion chief with the Carlsbad Fire Department. Lynds said the driver, who has not been publicly identified, didn’t veer onto Carlsbad Boulevard, instead barrelling through the guardrail, over a fence and down onto the South Carlsbad State Beach.

“Especially after going into the water, the fact that the patient is alive is probably a testament to the engineering of the car,” Lynds said. 

Carlsbad resident Chris Calabrese said he saw it happen.

“He was cruising northbound and then he looked like he was going to merge and he just kept going left and he busted through this guardrail,” Calabrese said.

Helicopter video shows crews slowly guiding the man on a stretcher up the cliff to receive medical attention. His condition was not disclosed, though Lynds said he possibly suffered injuries to his legs, pelvis and chest area. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

The man’s vehicle, a white Subaru Forester, appeared to sustain heavy damage in the crash, as it was tipped over onto its driver’s side door as water crashed around it. At about 7:45 p.m., the car was being pulled up from the beach before it was towed away.

Kaden Horan, who also witnessed the crash, said it was pretty shocking to see.

“He didn’t try to stop or anything, didn’t try to slow down, didn’t put his brakes on,” Horan said. “He just went right off.”

As a crowd of interested people gathered to see the SUV lifted from the shore, Lynds said he wished one person had stuck around. 

Retired Navy corpsman William Schulberg was the man who sprang into action when he saw the SUV plunge off the cliff.

“I wish he had hung out because he deserves a lot of kudos,” Lynds said.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information about the former service member. The former service member is a retired Navy corpsman and the story has been corrected.

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