Drivers Survive Car's 200' Plunge

By R. Stickney and Monica Dean
|  Friday, Jan 22, 2010  |  Updated 6:50 PM PDT
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Snow Falls in the Mountains

Monica Dean

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Drivers Survive Car's 200' Plunge

Two people driving westbound spun out and crashed into an embankment along Interstate 8 just west of Pine Valley Road.
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The powerful winter storm system that has pounded San Diego's coastline and flooded sections of the county this week has brought an ice storm and treacherous driving conditions in the East County.

Snowplows are hard at work trying to clear the snow and ice from Interstate 8 in the East County. Chains are required along Sunrise Highway going up to Mt. Laguna.

Two people driving westbound spun out and crashed into an embankment along Interstate 8 just west of Pine Valley Road on Thursday. The driver, a 48-year old man, and his 37-year old wife survived the crash. They were pulled from the car and transported to Sharp Hospital.

Because of the snow and icy conditions, road crews couldn't remove the car until Friday morning. The car was dragged over jagged rocks up a steep hillside.

As the tow truck driver was working alongside the highway Friday morning around 8 a.m., he noticed a minivan losing control heading eastbound on the same stretch of highway.

The driver, going possibly 60 or 65, flipped over and ended up at the bottom of the embankment.

The tow truck driver alerted CHP who was able to help the minivan driver.

The San Diego man who was headed to El Centro told news crews he was glad to be alive after the accident.

"I'm surprised after seeing the car that I was able to walk out and stand here before everybody," said Robert Zakar.

Zakar tried to slow down but the van just jumped off the road and rolled. He walked away with just a few cuts on his hands and a rip in his shirt.

While the crew was pulling his van back out onto the roadway, Zakar admitted he hadn't even had time to call his wife and two kids in Sabre Springs to tell them what happened.

"I don't want to scare them just yet," he said.

As of 10:30 a.m. Friday, the CHP incident page reports that Interstate 8 east of Crestwood was covered with ice.

The mangled wreckage tells the story of the intense impact and California Highway Patrol officers hope it sends a message.

"You see that right there, that's what happens when you don't slow down in the rain and the snow," said CHP officer Mike Clauser. The speed limit's 70 out here on a good day. Not when it's raining not when it's snowing."

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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