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Woman Drives Off Cliff, Forced to Climb Back Up

Debbie Lopez, 57, spent 24 hours climbing steep terrain after days of waiting
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2015 8:15 AM CST
Woman Drives Off Cliff, Forced to Climb Back Up
This April 18, 2005 file photo shows waves as they crash against the cliffs off of Highway 1, south of Big Sur, Calif. The road to Big Sur is a narrow, winding one, with the Pacific Ocean on one side and a mountainside of redwoods on the other.   (AP Photo/Anja Schlein, FILE)

Talk about the will to live. When 57-year-old Debbie Lopez was putting out a cigarette and steered her pickup truck off a cliff on the winding coastal Highway 1 near Ragged Point, Calif., last Saturday, she plunged 150 feet and landed upside down, where she waited for help for days, reports "The truck just flew over and I could just feel myself flying down and hitting things I don't know what I hit, and when I landed, I didn't know I was upside down," she tells KSBY News. On Monday, she recovered enough strength to climb out through her windshield. Steep as it was, she then realized the only way out was up.

So she spent 24 hours working her way upward, sometimes crawling, knowing it was the only way back to her family. She made it to the top on Tuesday around 5pm, and credits her survival in part to the rainwater that collected in her wheel well and to prayer—she prayed the rosary more than a dozen times a day, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports. "I got up and for a moment there were no cars and I leaned down and I kissed the road, and I said that I am going home." The Tribune reports she was hospitalized with dehydration and is expected to head home today. One incredible detail: Though police now know the location of her truck, it had fallen so far that as of Wednesday night they still had trouble seeing it. (In November, a 4-year-old boy survived a 230-foot plunge down a cliff.)

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