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Driver spent 5 days trapped in California ravine before passerby heard calls for help

A man who was ejected from his crashed truck spent five days trapped in a 100-foot ravine in Southern California, until a passerby said he noticed the wreck and heard screams for help last week.

The Kern County Fire Department responded to Comanche Point Road, outside of Bakersfield, on the morning of Sept. 2 after a caller reported an injured man was at the bottom of a 100-foot cliff. The man “had been immobilized at the bottom of the ravine since Tuesday, August 29th.”

His “badly damaged” pickup truck was also at the bottom of the ravine, the department said.

Emergency crews respond to a driver trapped in a ravine off Comanche Point Road in California on Sept. 2.Kern County Fire Department

The department put together a “rope rescue system” to lower four firefighters into the ravine. Firefighters then secured the man into a basket before carefully raising him to safety.

He was then flown to a nearby hospital, according to the Kern County Fire Department.

Cory Sizelove, 50, and his friend decided to take a morning ride on their motorcycles when they saw the truck at the bottom of the ravine.

“I turned off my motorcycle and took my helmet off, then I could hear him yelling for help down there,” Sizelove said. “But I still couldn’t see where he was at because he wasn’t inside the truck, because he had been ejected during the accident.”

They eventually spotted the man about 30 or 40 feet away from the totaled vehicle, Sizelove said in an interview with “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” on Thursday. Sizelove went down into the embankment on his bike while his friend called 911.

He said it was a miracle he and his friend were able to come across the man.

“I was shocked and really surprised and amazed that someone had lived through that because … I was just praying that I didn’t find someone that was passed away,” Sizelove said, “Because it’s just pretty far down there.”

The first thing the man asked for was water, according to Sizelove. After that, the man asked to call his wife.

Emergency crews respond to a driver trapped in a ravine off Comanche Point Road in California on Sept. 2, 2023.
Emergency crews respond to a driver trapped in a ravine off Comanche Point Road in California on Sept. 2.Cory Sizelove

Sizelove said he did his best to not move the man and keep him shaded from the sun while they waited for help to arrive. The man didn’t appear to have any bleeding, but was complaining of back pain, he said.

“He was able to sit there and hold his head in his hands and support his head a little bit,” Sizelove said. “And that was the best he could do to just kind of stay immobile.”

The driver, Calvin Smith, identified himself in an interview with KTLA on Wednesday and said his truck went down an embankment.

He told the news station he had suffered a broken back and ribs, unable to move before help arrived.

“I kept asking God, saying, ‘Please don’t let me die out here,” Smith told KTLA. “It was ice cold at night and burning hot during the daytime.”

Smith did not immediately respond to NBC News requests for comment on Thursday.

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