EXCLUSIVE: Car over cliff, woman survives

RUNNING SPRINGS, Calif. People say it's incredible /*Markie Smith*/ survived a crash in her Volkswagen Beetle Saturday night when her car plummeted off a mountain.

"It's a miracle," said Markie Smith. "It's a miracle I'm still here."

She was coming back from a movie late Saturday night, driving along the /*Rim of the World Highway*/ (/*State Route 18*/) toward /*Running Springs*/. She said she only looked down for a second.

"It can happen to anyone, you know," said Smith. "I was driving at a safe speed, and I was, you know -- all it takes is that."

Smith veered off the side of the road. When her tires came in contact with cinders on the road shoulder, she lost control of the car. She swerved toward the center of Highway 18 and then overcorrected. That's when she went down the hill down off the side, the car flipping over and over, 550 feet to the bottom.

"My initial thought was, 'Is my head OK?'" recounted Smith. "I was afraid that I was bleeding from the head, and it was't. It was just my nose that was bleeding."

Bloody and battered, Smith crawled all the way back up the steep and treacherous mountainside to try to get help. It was below freezing, and she lost her shoes, but she made it almost 600 feet back up.

"A couple cars didn't stop," said Smith. "I was waving my arms, and I'm sure it was a little bit scary for them if they did see me, you know: I'm dirty and bloody, and the girl that stopped was just an angel, you know. She was wonderful."

And Smith only has a few bruises.

"She's extremely lucky," said /*CHP Officer Gary Fernandez*/. "The seatbelt saved her from the impact, from the numerous impacts, but luckily she was able to climb back up and flag down some help."

But in her mind, maybe it wasn't just luck. She says someone might have been watching over her, perhaps her father who passed away years ago. The night of the crash would have been his birthday.

"I'd like to think so. It was my father that passed, and it was his birthday on the 3rd, which is the night that it happened. So I'd like to think he was holding my head and saying I'd be fine."


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