San Jose

Police Use “Find My iPhone” App to Locate Woman Rescued After Rolling 500 Feet Down Mount Hamilton

A woman was rescued in dramatic fashion Tuesday morning from the base of Mount Hamilton, where she had spent 15 hours face down in a ravine after her Chevy careened 500 feet down an embankment.

The 28-year-old woman, identified as Melissa Vasquez by the California Highway Patrol, was in stable condition at Regional Medical Center, according to the hospital's Chief Operating Officer Sandy Yanko.

A tech-savvy police officer is being credited as a hero for figuring out Vasquez's home computer password so he could use her Find My iPhone app to lead crews straight to the flipped-over car.

"It's really remarkable," said Campbell Police Capt. Gary Berg, who said Officer David Cameron logged into her PC in an effort to zero in on her exact location. "I don't think she would be alive today, otherwise."

Vasquez landed face down in the ravine after she was ejected from her 2012 Chevrolet Cruze, according to a CHP report. San Jose Fire Capt. Brad McGibben said she was "awake and talking to us" when she was hoisted to a hospital about 9 a.m.

The situation began about 2 p.m. on Monday when police received an "OnStar" call from the woman's car navigation company. Berg said officers searched for two hours, but couldn't find her. The alert said the tires had "left the ground," and that originally, her Chevy was located near her home, by Camden Avenue and Highway 17.

Then, OnStar alerts gave out a few more locations, including a ping about 4 p.m. in downtown San Jose, Berg said. Still, officers couldn't find her. For its part, OnStar officials said the company was looking into the issue.

At 3 a.m. Tuesday, the young woman's stepmother, with whom she lives, called Campbell police to report that the young woman still wasn't home and it was very unlike her, Berg said.

Cameron, who has been an officer with the department since 1998 and has a mind for computers, tinkered on a computer at Vasquez's home, until he figured out her password.

"Unbelievably, Officer Cameron was able to guess the correct password and log into her account," Berg said.

It took Cameron three tries. "I just tried to make an educated guess," he said, descrbibing himself as a "tech geek."

Once Cameron logged into the Find My iPhone app, he had the location at the base of Mt. Hamilton, which propelled more than a half a dozen rescue agencies to the remote, rugged scene about 5 a.m., Berg said.

NBC Bay Area's chopper flew over the 4,000-foot mountain, which overlooks Silicon Valley, surveying the scene from above.

Just about 7:30 a.m., a rescue crew member from a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter was lowered down to the ground to an area thick with trees, to find a white Chevy flipped over on its roof. Within 15 minutes, crews carried a stretcher to the scene. The stretcher was then hoisted up into the awaiting emergency helicopter about 8:40 a.m. She was seen being wheeled into Regional Medical Center of San Jose by 9 a.m.

Down below, emergency crews from agencies including the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department and Cal Fire surrounded the flipped-over car. Firefighters cut away brush as the winds made it difficult for the helicopter to land.

Westbound Mt. Hamilton Road was shut down near the Mt. Hamilton Grandview Restaurant, and drivers were advised to take Quimby Road instead.

CHP Officer Ross Lee said investigators didn't know why Vasquez went off the road, but alcohol and drugs are not thought to be factors at this time.

NBC Bay Area's Tim Bollinger, Marianne Favro and Bay City News contributed to this report.

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