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WP: Man tells Arizona authorities he accidently drove car off South Rim of Grand Canyon


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PHOENIX — A man who survived after apparently driving his car off the South Rim of the Grand Canyon hit a tree just feet before another long drop-off, an official said Wednesday.

The driver was treated at Flagstaff Medical Center for non-life threatening injuries, said Grand Canyon National Park spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge. She declined to release the 21-year-old’s identity or hometown until park rangers have finished their investigation.

Park rangers located the man’s car some 200 feet below the rim, lodged against a tree, Oltrogge said. There was another precipice about 10 feet beyond the tree.

A park visitor reported finding the injured man in the roadway at about 7:45 p.m. Monday. The man told the visitor he had accidently driven his vehicle over the South Rim.

He told responding park rangers that he had extricated himself from the crashed vehicle and climbed up to the rim to seek help.

The crash happened about 6 miles east of the Grand Canyon Village near a spot known as Twin Overlooks.

The man’s car remained where it landed on Wednesday and park officials were beginning to develop a plan to retrieve it, Oltrogge said. In similar cases, officials have used a heavy lift helicopter to pull out vehicles that have driven off the canyon’s edge.

Such accidents are rare, and some have involved attempted or actual suicides, although authorities would not say if they suspected that in Monday’s crash.

A California man intentionally drove his car off the canyon’s edge in July 2009 from the parking lot of the famed El Tovar Hotel. In December, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report cited the Grand Canyon as second in the nation among national parks for suicides. The CDC report cited 11 suicides and 10 attempts between 2003 and 2009 at the park along the Arizona-Utah line.

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