Horrifying video, miraculous rescue: Dad's truck flies off California cliff with girls inside
By DON SWEENEY | The Sacramento Bee | Published: June 16, 2020
(Tribune News Service) — A security camera video overlooking Sunset Cliffs in San Diego shows a pair of headlights racing through a grove of trees toward the dropoff over the Pacific Ocean.
Then a pickup truck emerges from the trees and speeds directly off the cliff, sailing through the air before landing upside down on a rock with a tremendous splash, the video shows.
Officer Jonathan Wiese had been searching for the pickup truck following reports that a suicidal man planned to drive off a bridge with his twin daughters, KNSD reported. Then he heard a radio report of the Sunset Cliffs crash at 5 a.m. Saturday.
“Oh my God. What the heck? Please tell me the kids weren’t in there. Please tell me he dropped them off,” Wiese says he thought, according to the station.
Wiese arrived at the cliff moments later and spotted the father in the wrecked truck below, KSWB reported.
“I could see him and he had one of the girls in his arms, and I have a 2-year-old daughter at home so I imagined, what if that was my wife and kid down there?” Wiese said, according to the station. “You’re not going to stand there on the cliff and watch it happen.”
Wiese, a K9 officer, used a 100-foot leash to lower himself down the cliff with the help of other officers, then swam over to the father and 2-year-old twin girls, KSWB reports.
“By the time I got to him, he had pulled both girls out of the truck and was now holding them trying to tread water and with the waves and just not having his hands — he kept going under with the girls,” Wiese said, KFMB reported.
Recalling his Marine Corps rescue training, Wiese swam back to shore pulling the father, who was still clinging to his daughters, KSWB reported.
Other officers used the leash and a backpack to pull the girls up the cliff to an ambulance, KNSD reported. A helicopter later hoisted the father to safety.
“That’s probably the most heroic thing I’ve seen in my 32 years,” said San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit, KSWB reported.
A GoFundMe account established for the two girls and their mother says their father had taken them without permission and sent messages saying she would not see them again. “Both the girls are in stable condition at a local hospital,” according to the GoFundMe page.