Portland woman rescued on Calif. beach says she suffered brain hemorrhage, broken bones

Angela Hernandez, a Portland woman, crashed off Highway 1 in California and was stranded on the coast for a week before someone found her. on July 15, 2018, she posted on Facebook about how she survived. Photo courtesy Angela Hernandez

BIG SUR, Calif. – Angela Hernandez says she survived a week injured and alone on a California beach without food. She used a hose from her crumpled Jeep to drink water from a stream and tried every day to get someone’s attention from the base of a 200-foot cliff along Highway 1.

In a Facebook post Sunday, Hernandez detailed the horrific crash that caused her disappearance on July 6.

She said she was driving along the highway to visit family in Southern California. As she passed through Big Sur, a small animal crossed in front of her Jeep on the roadway. Hernandez swerved and the next thing she remembers, she was waking up with water rising over her knees.

Her car had tumbled about 200 feet down a cliff and was partially-submerged in the Pacific Ocean.

Hernandez said her head hurt and when she touched it, she found blood on her hands.

When she realized all her windows were closed, she found a tool inside her cab and hit her driver’s side window until it broke open and she could jump into the ocean. She swam to shore and fell asleep.

“When I woke up, it was still daylight and it was only then that I had finally realized what had happened,” Hernandez wrote in her post.

She said she stood up and noticed immense pain in her shoulders, hips, back and thighs.

She realized she was alone. There was no sign of civilization, besides the cars racing by on the highway, 200 feet above her.

Hernandez said she had a gallon of fresh water in her car, but she was unable to get it out.

The 23-year-old spent the next seven days walking up and down the beach, searching for another person. She said she found a high spot she could climb onto where she could see the cars driving along the cliff. She said she felt like if she could yell loud enough, someone would hear her.

“I'd usually stay there until the sun became unbearable and then would find a way to slide myself back down to the shore,” Hernandez wrote.

Three days after the crash, Hernandez says she started feeling the effects of dehydration. She walked back to her car and found a 10-inch black hose that must have fallen off the vehicle during the crash. She put it in the pocket of her sweater and walked farther south down the beach than she had previously.

At one point, she heard a dripping sound. She looked up and saw a patch of moss on the side the cliff. She tasted the water dripping off it wand was thrilled to discover it was fresh. She used the hose and drank the water for about an hour.

Hernandez said this became her ritual every day. She would walk down the beach looking for higher ground, screaming for help and collecting water. Every night, she slept on the highest point she could climb before the tide came in. Every morning she woke soaked in sea mist.

On July 13, Hernandez woke up and saw a woman walking across the shore.

“I thought she was a dream. (I had a few just like this during the past few days),” Hernandez wrote.

She screamed to the woman and got up as quickly as she could. The woman was with a man and as Hernandez said, “I don't think they could believe their eyes.”

Hernandez said the couple was married. The man stayed with her and gave her fresh water while the woman ran up a trail to find help.

The couple explained they had been exploring the beach when they came across her destroyed vehicle.

Eventually, a rescue team pulled Hernandez to safety and a helicopter transported her to a nearby hospital.

Hernandez said she suffered a brain hemorrhage in the crash, fractured four ribs, broke both collar bones, suffered a collapsed lung, had ruptured blood vessels in both eyes and received intense sunburns on her hands, feet, and face.

“But, at the end of the day, none of that matters. I feel like I have everything I've ever wanted. I'm sitting here in the hospital, laughing with my sister until she makes broken bones hurt,” Hernandez wrote. “I don't know, you guys, life is incredible.”

Hernandez's family has set up a GoFundMe account to help in her recovery.

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