71-Year-Old Traffic Accident Victim ‘Lucky’ Even With Major Injuries, Says CHP Spokesperson

chp major injury featureAt about 12:55 a.m. a 71-year-old man, Norman Opela, who was in a 1993 Plymouth plummeted down a 150 foot embankment on Hwy 199 and landed in the Smith River.

One person witnessed the collision and was able to immediately contact 911, according to California Highway Patrol spokesperson Officer Rick Borges. “It was rather lucky,” Borges said. “If that person hadn’t observed [Opela] go off the road, I don’t know if he would have been found.”

The victim could be heard yelling for help, according to the California Highway Patrol Incident page. Search and Rescue arrived at the scene and, because, the vehicle was in a shallow portion of the river, were able to extricate the victim who had major injuries.

The reason Opela drove off the roadway at approximately mile marker 26.6 is still under investigation at this time, said Borges.



  • I am so glad he made it and is ok. He has Guardian Angel’s watching over him. I pray he has a speedy recovery and is back with his family soon. Kudos to the person who witnessed this and summoned help. You are a hero.

    • I could not agree more. Odds are you might not see anyone for hours at that time of the early morning. Guardian angel for sure. Thanks KYM KEMP for up to date information. I know that area and it could have taken months before a victim was discovered.

  • Guardian angel for sure!
    I hope he’ll recover smoothly.

  • Thank god for the witness seeing this.bless you

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