COARSEGOLD — An 19-year-old Oakhurst woman was airlifted this morning after crashing off the roadway just south of Coarsegold.
Just after 5 a.m., the driver was southbound on Highway 41 in a 2015 Kia Optima, when, according to CHP, she fell asleep at the wheel, drifted off the right side of the road, and plummeted over the steep embankment.
The roadway is shored up with huge boulders in that area, and the front end of the car hit those rocks, causing the engine compartment to blow apart, sending the car’s engine flying some 100 feet across the creek, according to CHP at the scene.
The Kia then flipped end-over-end, and finally came to rest up against a tree, on its wheels in the creek.
Two Coarsegold Caltrans workers were on their way to a job, headed south out of Coarsegold, when they spotted the wreck. Josh Vonderahe was driving, and passenger Bart Zhourek looked out the window and saw the Kia down the embankment.
They pulled their truck off the road onto Konklin Lane, and climbed down the nearly-vertical pile of boulders to the vehicle, where they found the driver, alert and conscious, calling 911.
“She was a little out of it, and wasn’t sure exactly where she was,” said Vonderahe, who provided further information for first responders. He was not sure how long it had been since the accident happened.
Cal Fire Engine 4285 and Madera County Engine 10 responded, along with CHP and Sheriff’s deputies.
The driver was transported by Sierra Ambulance to a waiting SkyLife helicopter, which set down just behind the Historic Village in Coarsegold.
According to CHP, the driver had a large contusion on her forehead, but appeared otherwise uninjured. She was wearing her seatbelt and both front and side airbags deployed. She was airlifted to Community Regional Medical Center as is protocol whenever a head injury is involved.
One-lane traffic control was put in place throughout the transport of the patient, and as the tow truck hauled the Kia back up to the roadway.