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Bellingham man crashed over a cliff, but was able to call for help

Firefighters rigged a rope system to rescue a Bellingham man who suffered serious injuries when his car hurtled 250 feet over a steep embankment near the end of the Mount Baker Highway in the predawn hours of Thursday, Aug. 11. The wrecked Toyota Prius is held with ropes to keep it from rolling farther downhill.
Firefighters rigged a rope system to rescue a Bellingham man who suffered serious injuries when his car hurtled 250 feet over a steep embankment near the end of the Mount Baker Highway in the predawn hours of Thursday, Aug. 11. The wrecked Toyota Prius is held with ropes to keep it from rolling farther downhill. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Firefighters using ropes rescued a Bellingham man who suffered serious injuries when his car plunged 250 feet over a steep embankment near the end of the Mount Baker Highway in the predawn hours of Thursday, Aug. 11.

Warren S. Levine, 61, of Bellingham was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph hospital after the 4:25 a.m. wreck, said Sgt. Mark Francis of the Washington State Patrol.

Levine suffered head and shoulder injuries and was thrown out of his seat belt into the car’s rear seat, Francis said.

Levine was listed in satisfactory condition at the hospital Friday, Aug. 12, a nursing supervisor said.

Emergency workers said it was fortunate that Levine remained conscious after the crash, and that his mobile phone had service in the remote, mountainous region.

“(His car rolled) numerous times, patient ended up in the rear seat, even though he had been belted in,” said Chief Ben Thompson of the all-volunteer Whatcom County Fire District 19, which serves the mountain community of Glacier. “Luckily, his phone landed within reach and he was able to call 911 to report his location, which was not obvious from the road, only minor skid marks.”

Thompson said the crash was at milepost 51.5, where the two-lane road switchbacks in steep terrain below the Mt. Baker Ski Area and nearly 20 miles east of Glacier, the nearest town.

Firefighters stabilized the car, a silver 2007 Toyota Prius, by securing it to an uphill tree with rope. Then they rigged a lifting system to raise the victim.

Thompson said firefighters from Fire District 14 in Kendall and Whatcom Medic One participated in the rescue.

Levine was loaded into the ambulance about 7 a.m., Francis said.

Francis said the Prius sustained significant damage and was lifted by a tow truck about 9 a.m. A state patrol report was unavailable Friday, so Francis did not know what caused the crash or if Levine was cited.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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