Update: 76-Year-Old Driver Rescued From Carbon River Ravine Near Carbonado

State Patrol indicates the driver mistook the gas for a brake pedal when his vehicle went over an embankment on the Fairfax Bridge just south of Carbonado.

A 76-year-old driver from Issaquah was rescued from a ravine Thursday evening after his car went over an embankment on the Fairfax Bridge. 

The Fairfax Bridge is located 10-12 miles south of Buckley and just south of Carbonado. It serves as access for popular hiking and camping destinations at Mount Rainier National Park including Mowich Lake, Spray Park and the Carbon River Road.

Washington State Patrol troopers report that the driver of a 1997 GMC Suburban had attempted to turn around near the bridge on State Route 165 around 1 p.m. when his car went over the embankment and came to rest about 20-30 feet down the steep embankment. A press memo issued Thursday night indicated he had mistook the gas for a brake pedal. The driver attempted to climb out to the road but lost his footing and fell approximately 100-150 feet down the ravine towards the Carbon River.

Just after 4 p.m., two off-duty law officers saw the car in the brush and stopped to investigate. They heard the man yelling for help and called 911.

East Pierce Fire and Rescue’s Technical Rescue Team took the lead during the high-angle rope rescue to recover the driver, who was seriously injured.

The Pierce County Special Operations Rescue Team, or PCSORT, was activated to assist in the rescue. Technical rescue personnel from Central Pierce Fire and Rescue, Gig Harbor Fire and Medic One and West Pierce Fire and Rescue joined East Pierce’s Technical Rescue Team of specially-trained firefighters who respond to extraordinary or highly-dangerous rescue situations such as building collapses, wilderness rescues, confined-space entrapments and high-angle rescues.

Carbonado Fire Department also responded to the scene.

The Technical Rescue Team brought the patient to the road, and a waiting medic unit, just after 6:30 p.m. He was transported to a landing zone where he was airlifted to a local trauma center and ultimately to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. His condition was unknown Thursday night.

Washington State Patrol is investigating the cause of the crash.


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