Car plunged off Grizzly Peak, three occupants survived

Crushed vegetation in wake of accident involving a car driving off Grizzly Peak Blvd on June 8. Photo: Kristen Van Dam

A car went off the road at Grizzly Peak Blvd on the evening of Friday June 8 and plunged 200-300 feet down the embankment. The car’s three occupants survived with relatively minor injuries.

The accident occurred south of Centennial Drive, according to Gil Dong, Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief.

At 9:13 pm, Berkeley Fire responded to a report of a car over the cliff at Grizzly Peak. Two of the car’s three occupants had managed to extricate themselves and climb up to the roadway. They were able to use their cell phones to call emergency dispatchers and give them their location. Berkeley Fire treated the two occupants and took them to Highland Hospital for further medical attention.

Emergency personnel from Berkeley Fire and Police, East Bay Regional Parks Police and Fire, Oakland Police, and CHP searched the scene for a reported third occupant. Ultimately the third occupant was found safe at his parents’ house, according to Dong.

Berkeleyside was alerted to the incident by reader Kristen Van Dam who expressed surprise she had not read about the accident in the media. “I was at home off of Grizzly Peak when I heard sirens everywhere and watched nine cruisers, two fire marshals, two ambulances and a fire truck drive by in succession. I knew something was very wrong and suspected a fire. There was nothing on the news or Twitter, so I turned on the police scanner. I heard on the scanner that at least three people in a car had gone over the edge of Grizzly Peak after being involved in an accident,” she wrote.

On Thursday, Van Dam walked the trail below where the accident happened and saw the remnants of the police blockage and found the trail of destruction left by the vehicle. “There is broken auto glass and crushed vegetation all over the trail. I can’t imagine how they recovered the car as it must have traveled at least 200 feet down the canyon,” she said.

Last year there were at least two incidents of cars going off Grizzly Peak. In April an SUV plunged 100 feet off the road near Fish Ranch Road. The driver was able to climb back up to the road to get help. Later that same month, a 53-year-old man drove off Grizzly Peak between Centennial Drive and South Park Drive and was rescued alive and relatively unscathed after remaining undiscovered for four days.

Man drives off Grizzly Peak, undiscovered for four days [04.29.12]

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  • As the parent of teens who are Berkeley High students, I am wondering if there is any more information
    on this accident. I am regretfully aware that June seemed to mark the beginning of a kind of party season for many of our teenagers who live in our community.  This especially seems true for many of our older teens,
    especially our recent high school graduates.

    Although I hear that teens are much more vigilante and responsible about not mixing alcohol and driving,
    I have not heard that the same kind of awareness is being applied to marijuana use and vehicle use.
    I also was not born yesterday, so doubt that our beloved children are always making good choices.
    In fact, I know that they are not.

    I would appreciate knowing if the driver of this vehicle lost control of his/her vehicle due to a substance
    related issue.

    I also think that we parents of teens need to keep talking to each other.

  • Completely_Serious

    A UC fireman once told me, if you go off Grizzly Peak, climb up.  Most folks try to go down the canyon, and that’s how they end up spending a couple nights camping in Claremont Canyon.

  • BHills

    Thank you to the source and to Berkeleyside for sharing this information.  It is a little unnerving to hear so many sirens and have no idea why.

  • Chris

    I always wonder how this doesn’t happen more often?

  • Aram Jahn

    After the twisty-turny-ness is pretty much over once you get past Centennial (heading toward Fish Ranch/Claremont) there are a couple of places that, for the life of me, I don’t understand where there isn’t a guard rail. Maybe some of the other readers know exactly what I mean?

  • Tybehr2

    just drove this last weekend – they need WAY more guardrails up there. also, did anyone hear about the car found after 30 some years – they discovered it when rescuing another vehicle. apparently the first car plunged in the same spot but decades ago!