By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor

A driver trapped in a vehicle hidden from view down an embankment has a sharp-eyed Correctional Counselor to thank for a positive outcome.

At about 5 a.m. on Aug. 23, 2016, Ironwood State Prison Correctional Counselor Nicholas Wilder was on his way to work when he saw a vehicle go off the road on Highway 10.

Nicholas Wilder

Nicholas Wilder

“The car rolled a couple times down an embankment and luckily I happened to see the headlights before they shut off. I pulled over and immediately ran down toward the vehicle and in the process slid down the embankment,” he said. “I could not see inside of the vehicle because of the dust.  I had to open the driver’s side door because the passenger side was badly damaged.”

He said the elderly driver was not conscious but the noise of opening the door woke her.

“As I opened the door, it made a loud pop sound and it startled her and she started screaming,” Wilder said. “I noticed her left arm was broken and had her hold her arm close to her body with her other arm to stabilize it. (There was also) blood coming down her face so I advised her to lay her head back against the headrest and told her I was going to call 911.”

After speaking to CHP and giving them the location, they transferred the call to the fire department.

“(They) advised me to turn on the emergency hazards from her vehicle because of the description I gave them of the location it might be hard to see from the highway. With their direction, I (searched) the area for other victims in case they were ejected from the vehicle. I gave dispatch a description of the injuries and they told me to call back if her conditioned worsened,” he said.

About 20 minutes later, Wilder could see the fire department looking for them using a spotlight.

“While we were waiting I kept her calm by talking to her and reassuring her she’s fine to stay calm and help was coming. We were even joking how her son was going to be mad (because) that was a brand new vehicle,” Wilder said. “Once fire arrived, I stayed to give the CHP officers a brief report. Fire told me good thing I happened to see the accident because they had a hard time seeing the vehicle because of the brush and that in that area vehicles can go unnoticed for long periods of time.”