Cellphone alert leads rescuers to man who drove 400 feet off California cliff

A motorist survived a 400-foot drop off a cliff Friday in Los Angeles County and was rescued after his cellphone alerted authorities.

In certain Apple iPhones with fully updated software, they can detect if a user suffered a hard crash or fall. The device then presents an alert and sounds an alarm.

If the user has not shut off the alert and alarm within 20 seconds, the device then shares the owner’s location and contacts emergency services and a person’s emergency contact to let them know about the incident.

Friday’s crash happened at 10:51 p.m. off a road near Mount Wilson north of Los Angeles. The driver suffered laceration and trauma to his head and would have died if not for the alert and rescue, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Assistant Director Mike Leum told ABC News.

“The majority of calls we get there over the sides usually are fatal. … This guy on Friday would have bled out,” Mr. Leum explained.

The driver did not have any other injuries such as broken bones. Authorities have not disclosed any further identifying information about the motorist or his current condition.

Mr. Leum posted two videos of the crash’s aftermath on Twitter, showing the unnamed driver being airlifted to safety and showing the wreck of the unspecified car.

As opposed to older models that simply called 911, the updated Apple feature uses satellites to reach authorities. This, too, turned out to be provident for the driver, as the area in which he crashed has little to no cellphone reception.

“The location that we got from the iPhone activation was spot on. It was basically his phone on its own, calling for help on his behalf,” Steve Goldsworthy, the rescue and operations leader for the volunteer nonprofit Montrose Search & Rescue, told KCAL-TV.

Montrose Search & Rescue is affiliated with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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