It was a faint cry of “help” almost drowned out by crashing waves, but Chelsea Moore heard it as she and her husband hiked on a rocky California beach so remote the couple had to use ropes to rappel into it.
“We didn’t see her at first. I heard it, and then I asked my husband if he heard it and he hadn’t. And then she yelled for ‘help’ again, and she stood up and we saw her standing in some rocks at the bottom of the cliff,” Moore told ABC News on Monday. “We were very surprised, totally shocked. We hadn’t seen any humans. We hadn’t even seen footprints on the beach we were on.”
Yelling for help was Angela Hernandez, 23, of Portland, Oregon, who survived for seven days at the bottom of an oceanside cliff just south of Big Sur after losing control of her Jeep on Highway 1 and plummeting 250 feet down the side of a cliff to the Pacific Ocean.
Battered and broken but thankful to be alive, Hernandez was rescued Friday after spending a week wandering the beach, desperately searching help. The only freshwater she could find was trickling from the side of the rocky cliff that she captured in a radiator hose she retrieved from her wrecked vehicle, Moore said.
Hernandez was being treated at the Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton, California, on Monday. In a long Facebook post she wrote from her hospital bed, she said the car crash left her with four fractured ribs, two broken collarbones, a collapsed lung, ruptured blood vessels in both eyes and a brain hemorrhage.
“But at the end of the day, none of that matters,” she wrote of her injuries. “I feel like I have everything I’ve ever wanted. I’m, sitting here in the hospital, laughing with my sister until she makes my broken bones hurt.”
She continued: “I’ve met some of the most beautiful human beings that I think I’ll ever meet in my entire life. I’ve experienced something so unique and terrifying and … I can’t imagine that there isn’t a bigger purpose for me in my life.”
Moore and her husband, Chad, of Moro Bay, California, had been camping nearby and ventured down to explore a beach along the rocky coastline.
“There’s no, like, real legit trail down there. We used ropes and stuff to get down to the stretch of beach that we were exploring,” Chelsea Moore told ABC news.
The couple came upon Hernandez’s wrecked 2011 Jeep Patriot that was straddling the beach and water but not visible from Highway 1 above.
“Then a half-hour later we found her — or she found us. We found each other,” Chelsea Moore said.
She said the first thing Hernandez told her was, “I wrecked my car.”
“We wanted to make sure there weren’t any passengers,” Chelsea Moore said. “We were just like, ‘How are you? Oh, My God!’ But she was standing and talking, looked really rough.”
While her husband stayed with Hernandez, giving her water, Moore rushed back to the campground they were staying at to call 911, noting there was no cell-phone reception in the area.
The campground host showed her a missing-person flier with Hernandez’s photo on it.
“It wasn’t until I saw the date on that flier that I realized how long she had been down there,” Moore said. “The moment she pulled the flier out I was like, ‘Yes, this is her!’
“Once we reported it and knew help was on the way, I went back down with a backpack full of food and blankets and a couple of things for her to try to make her comfortable while we waited,” Moore said. “We just hung out and talked and we were just both in disbelief.”
She said she and her husband found Hernandez about a mile from her Jeep.
“She didn’t have any food, and she just used a little like U-shaped piece of hose from her car to collect water from a little trickle that was coming down the cliff and would drink that,” Moore said.
Moore said she and her husband waited with Hernandez for about two hours before rescuers arrived and figured out a plan get her off the beach and to the hospital.
“We’re really happy Angela’s alive,” Moore said.
Hernandez wrote on Facebook that she remembers crashing after a small animal stepped into the road and she swerved to avoid hitting it.
“The only thing I really remember after that was waking up,” she wrote. “I was still in my car and I could feel water rising over my knees. My head hurt, and when I touched it, I found blood on my hands.”
She said she used a “multi-tool” she kept near her front seat to break the driver’s side window and crawl out, landing in the ocean.
“I swam to the shore and fell asleep for an unknown amount of time,” she wrote. “When I woke up, it was still daylight and it was only then that I had finally realized what had happened.
“I stood up onto my feet and noticed a huge pain in my shoulders, hips, back and thighs. I saw nothing but rocks, the ocean, and a cliff that I knew I’d never be able to look over.”
Her shoes were missing, and she wandered back to her Jeep, where she had a gallon of water inside but was unable to retrieve it. The next days became a blur, she wrote, walking “up and down the beach in search of another human being.”
“I’d climb on rocks to avoid that sharp sand, walk along the shore to avoid the hot rocks…” she wrote. “I found a high spot I was able to climb up to and found myself there almost every day. I could see cars driving across the cliff and felt like if I could yell just loud enough, that one could hear or see me. That’s all it would take to make it back to my family.”
After three days, her jeans were torn apart and her “socks were nothing but holes.”
“I could start feeling the effects of dehydration,” she wrote.
She went back to her vehicle and found a 10-inch black hose that had fallen off her Jeep during the crash. As she walked further down the beach she heard a dripping sound.
“I looked up and saw a huge patch of moss with water dripping down from it,” she wrote. “I caught the water in my hands and tasted it. It was fresh!!!! I collected as much as I could in my little hose and drank from it for maybe an hour.”
Her daily routine became fetching watcher, screaming for help, looking for higher ground.
“Every night, I’d find the highest point I could climb up to and find somewhere to fall asleep before the tide would rise. Every morning, I’d wake up soaked in sea mist and watch the sunrise,” she wrote. “I’d daydream of foods I’d get to eat once I was found and imagined the face of the person who would eventually find me.”
Hernandez said that when she first saw Chelsea Moore, “I thought she was a dream.”
“I screamed, ‘HEEELLLPPPPP! and then got up as quickly as I could and ran over to her,” she wrote. “She was with a man and I don’t think they could believe their eyes. I couldn’t believe that they were even real. I couldn’t believe that we had finally found each other.”
Let’s block ads! (Why?)
ABC News: U.S.