Pair Saved in Dramatic Grizzly Peak Rescue

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:23:00 AM

A multijurisdictional team of firefighters and police scoured a dark stretch of Grizzly Peak Boulevard during the darkest hours of Saturday morning as a driver waited, clinging to his phone and trapped in his car on a steep stretch of the hillside 100 feet below the roadway. 

The dramatic rescue occurred when a California Highway Patrol 911 dispatcher called Berkeley to report that a caller was on the line and pleading for help, reports Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong. 

All the caller could say was that he’d had an accident on Grizzly Peak near the Berkeley-Oakland border. 

Berkeley promptly sent engines, a truck and an ambulance toward the scene, while alerting the Oakland Fire Department as well as Berkeley, Oakland and East Bay Regional Parks District police, who also responded—along with a California Highway Patrol helicopter. 

“We had to work the whole stretch of Grizzly Peak, with the communications dispatcher who kept the driver on the line,” said the deputy chief. 

“We sent a fire engine along the road, sounding the siren and the air horn so he could tell us when it came near. Finally he sad he could hear both the engine and the helicopter,” said Deputy Chief Dong.  

The engine crew searched the roadway, finally discovering tire tracks and a fresh wound on a tree trunk and half-mile south of Centennial Drive, “which put it technically in Oakland’s jurisdiction,” said Deputy Chief Dong. 

Berkeley firefighters descended the steep hillside with the help of a rope line, and only then did they discover two victims, both conscious and inside the upside-down car. 

“The people on top sent down a Stokes basket with a haul line, and the injured men were placed, one by one in the rigid, metal-framed rescue stretcher and hauled up the hillside. Both men were examined and found to be without any apparent major injuries, then taken to Highland Hospital, one in the Berkeley ambulance, one in a private ambulance. 

“We came, we saw, and we hauled them up,” said the deputy chief. “Last I heard they were both doing OK.”