The passenger in Monday's death-defying truck crash on Point Loma said he wondered whether the vehicle's 500-plus foot fall would ever end.
"Dirt started kicking up over the windshield, [we were] bouncing down and everything -- and the first thing I thought of was my wife," said John Little, 77, in a bedside interview Tuesday at UCSD Medical Center.
"I think I cheated old Satan," Little said on Tuesday. "I mean, he was trying his best to get me, and a higher power stopped him. He just said, 'Nope, we're not ready to go.' "
"She's been gone for about two years," Little noted, referring to his late wife, Dorothy. "I was thinking, 'Well, I'm going to join her.' "
The pickup truck's driver -- Little's friend of five decades, 75-year-old Harold Reed -- is in critical condition with a spinal fracture and head injuries.
Reed, a retired maintenance supervisor who worked at Solar Turbines, was airlifted -- dangling by a cable hoist -- to the hospital by Copter 2 after the crash. A San Diego Fire Rescue spokesman said it was believe that he mistakenly hit the accelerator while pulling into a parking space near the visitors center at Cabrillo National Monument. His Chevrolet S-10 pickup jumped the curb, crossed a sidewalk and plunged deep into a steep canyon. Rescuers had to break a window to haul him out of the wreckage.
Little said Reed had just been medically cleared to drive after hip surgery but was having trouble with his foot on the sightseeing drive to Point Loma. Both men were wearing seat belts when the crash occurred.
In the aftermath of the crash, after he crawled about 25 feet away from the wreckage, "I was in shock more than anything," Little recalled. "I knew my chest was hurting real bad, and the reason it was hurting was ... that seat belt ... but it's better to have a hurt than to be sitting over at the morgue."
Airbags in the pickup also contributed to saving the men's lives.
"There was a wreck that was supposed to kill both of us, and it didn't do it," Little said.