Big Sur is one of the most picturesque beach towns in the world. It’s located off the 1 highway on the coast of California and is beloved for it’s ideal surfing, hiking, and scenic cliff views. The winding roads through Big Sur, while very lovely are also deadly. It’s the site where so many deadly accidents have occurred. People have lost control of their car on that stretch of highway so many times, and there are usually never survivors who plunge off that cliff.
On July 6, Angela Hernandez, a 23-year-old, from Portland, Oregon was traveling alone and took the scenic route while on her way to visit her sister, who lived Los Angeles. All was fine during her drive, until a small animal crossed her path. The young Latina swerved to avoid hitting it and lost control of her car. What happened next is incredible.
“I don’t really remember much of the fall,” Hernandez said in a Facebook post. “They say I fell somewhere around 250 feet. The only thing I really remember after that was waking up. 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. My car’s power was off by now and every window was closed. Everything kind of happens fast here. I took off my seatbelt and found a multi-tool I kept near my front seat. I started hitting the driver-side window with it. Every bone in my body hurt. The only thing racing through my mind was my sister, Isabel. So I started screaming her name.”
Hernandez recalls that she broke out of her car and swam to shore. She said she fell asleep and doesn’t remember how long she passed out for.
“When I woke up, it was still daylight and it was only then that I had finally realized what had happened,” she writes. “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. I could see my car not too far from me, half washed up on shore with the roof ripped off of it. I looked down at my feet and saw that my shoes were gone. I tried getting into my car, because I had a gallon of water hidden away inside (I was never able to get to it, by the way).”
“The next few days kind of became a blur. I’d walk up and down the beach in search of an another human being. I’d climb on rocks to avoid the sharp sand, walk along the shore to avoid the hot rocks, and air wrestle tiny crabs. 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. Just one person noticing me. I’d usually stay there until the sun became unbearable and then would find a way to slide myself back down to the shore.”
Hernandez was down there for a week until two beachgoers found the bumper to her car, which led them to her.
“In my head, I thought that maybe someone had died and we would give these items to the next of kin,” Chelsea Moore, the woman that found her said to TRIB Live. “We both agreed that there weren’t survivors.” But of course, Hernandez was there, surviving on her own. The couple went to her rescue as soon as they found her and did what they could at that moment to help her.
“We wrapped her in blankets…tried to keep her comfortable and talking,” Moore said.
Hernandez was taken to the hospital and is still recovering from her injuries, but two weeks later is well enough to describe this unfathomable experience of survival.
“But, at the end of the day, none of that matters,” Hernandez writes. “I feel like I have everything I’ve ever wanted. I’m sitting here in the hospital, laughing with my sister until she makes broken bones hurt. 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 me that I can’t imagine that there isn’t a bigger purpose for me in this life. I don’t know, you guys, life is incredible.”