San Diego Firefighters Rescue Man Trapped in Hillside for Days

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San Diego Firefighters Rescue Man Trapped in Hillside for Days

A man who fell into a hole on the side of a cliff along the coast of San Diego and was possibly trapped for four days was rescued by San Diego firefighters on Dec. 22, 2023. (Courtesy of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

12/22/2023

Updated: 1/12/2024

After nearly 20 hours, San Diego firefighters rescued a man Dec. 22 who fell into a hole on the side of a cliff and was possibly trapped for four days.
First responders responded to an area called Sunset Cliffs along the coast of San Diego at about 3:45 p.m. Thursday after someone reported hearing a man calling out for help, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.
The man slipped and fell under broken concrete on the side of a cliff near Orchard Avenue and Cable Street, the department posted Thursday on X, formerly Twitter.
A man who fell into a hole on the side of a cliff along the coast of San Diego and was possibly trapped for four days was rescued by San Diego firefighters on Dec. 22, 2023. (Courtesy of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department)

A man who fell into a hole on the side of a cliff along the coast of San Diego and was possibly trapped for four days was rescued by San Diego firefighters on Dec. 22, 2023. (Courtesy of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department)

A man who fell into a hole on the side of a cliff along the coast of San Diego and was possibly trapped for four days was rescued by San Diego firefighters on Dec. 22, 2023. (Courtesy of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department)

A man who fell into a hole on the side of a cliff along the coast of San Diego and was possibly trapped for four days was rescued by San Diego firefighters on Dec. 22, 2023. (Courtesy of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department)

Battalion Chief Craig Newell told reporters rescuers discovered the man under a small rocky tunnel, attempting to create a shelter. While tunneling, he had slid and became wedged beneath the rock at the bottom of the tunnel, which was about 12 to 15 feet from the hilltop, according to Fox 5.
Rescuers were able to free the man’s legs within a few hours and worked to remove him from the tunnel throughout the night. The victim was in stable condition Thursday night and able to talk with first responders, according to the fire department.
“The location of this rescue is very treacherous for rescuers as well as the patient,” the fire department posted on X during the incident.
The hole was about 18 inches wide, with a small space below it, creating a “very challenging effort by rescuers,” the department said on X.
A fire department video showed rescuers quickly securing the area around the tunnel, which was being hammered by ocean waves during the stormy night.
The storm and high tide delayed efforts to free him, according to media reports.
Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

Author

Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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