The Korea Herald


California man found alive by his children after wreck


Published : Oct. 2, 2011 - 14:58

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SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — David Lavau's children drove slowly along the perilously curved mountain road, stopping to peer over the treacherous drop-offs and call out for their father, missing for six days.

The car of a man who survived for five days after his car plunged 200 feet off a a remote mountain is recovered in Castaic, California. AP-Yonhap News The car of a man who survived for five days after his car plunged 200 feet off a a remote mountain is recovered in Castaic, California. AP-Yonhap News

Then, finally, a faint cry: "Help, help." The voice from the wilderness not only let Lavau's children find him, it may have brought closure to another family and another missing persons case.

Close to a week after his car plunged 200 feet into a ravine, Lavau, 68, was rescued Thursday by his three adult children, who took matters into their own hands and searched a highway between their father's home in northern Los Angeles County and Ventura County, where a detective told them Lavau's bank and cell phone calls had placed him, sheriff's spokesman Capt. Mike Parker said.

And near him they found a body in another car that belonged to an 88-year-old man reported missing 10 days earlier.

As Lavau lay injured in the woods next to his wrecked car in the rugged section of the Angeles National Forest, he survived by eating bugs and leaves and drinking creek water, a doctor said.

His family told the Los Angeles Times that Lavau expected to die, and scrawled a farewell note on his dusty trunk: "I love my kids. Dead man was not my fault. Love, Dad."

Lavau was in serious but stable condition Friday at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital with three rib fractures, a dislocated shoulder, a broken arm and fractures in his back, said emergency room physician Dr. Garrett Sutter. He was expected to be released in three to four days after surgery on his shoulder and to make a full recovery.

One of the first things he requested after his rescue: a chocolate malt, Sutter said. Sutter said he was also "very desirous of a lobster taco."

Dr. Ranbir Singh, the hospital's trauma director, said Lavau told him he was driving to his home about 7 p.m. when he was temporarily blinded by the headlights of an oncoming car. He braked, but failed to gain traction. The car flipped and plunged down the embankment. He said he was unsure if he collided with the car.

However, a second car containing a male body was found next to Lavau's vehicle in a case believed to be unrelated.

That car, a Toyota Camry, was identified as belonging to 88-year-old Melvin Gelfand, whose family had reported him missing on Sept. 14, said Los Angeles police Detective Marla Ciuffetelli of the missing persons unit.

The body found in the car could not be visually identified due to decomposition, but Gelfand's son-in-law Will Matlack said the family had been contacted by the coroner's office, which was trying to match fingerprints or dental records to make a positive identification.

"The coroner said it's 99 percent a sure thing," Matlack said.

Lavau spent the night in his wrecked car and crawled out in daylight. He found a stream nearby and ate ants, the doctor said. He also found a flare in the other car and tried to light it, but it was expired. He also couldn't find his cellphone.


<한글 기사>

美 가족의 힘..계곡 추락 아버지 엿새만에 구조

미국에서 계곡에 추락한 60대 아버지가 가족들의 끈질긴 수색으로 엿새 만에 생환한 사연이 알려져 화제가 되고 있다.

1일 (현지시간) 로스앤젤레스타임스(LAT) 등 지역 언론은 지난 23일 로스앤젤레스 북쪽 앤젤레스 포레스트 고속도로에서 20m 아래 계곡으로 추락했다가 6일 만에 살아 돌아온 데이비드 라보(67) 씨의 사연을 보도했다.

라보 씨는 꼬불꼬불한 산악 도로를 달리다 다른 차와 충돌하면서 계곡으로 떨어 졌다.

휴대 전화는 부서져 작동이 되지 않았다.

부상이 심해 계곡을 타고 올라가 구조를 요청할 수도 없었다.

라보 씨의 연락이 끊기자 24일 실종 신고를 낸 가족들은 경찰에만 맡기지 않았다.

라보 씨가 실종 직전 사고 지역 근처에서 현금 카드를 사용했다는 정보를 경찰에게 들은 가족들은 이 지역을 샅샅이 뒤지기 시작했다. 라보 씨의 4남매를 포함한 가족과 친척들이 총동원됐다.

12살짜리 손녀도 나섰다.

가족들은 인근 골짜기를 빠짐없이 뒤졌다. 골짜기마다 다니며 "아빠"를 외쳤다.

엿새째 가족들은 "도와달라"라고 외치는 라보 씨의 목소리를 들었다.

딸 리사 씨는 "반드시 아빠를 구하겠다는 일념으로 구조에 나섰다"고 말했다.

가족들의 집념 못지않게 라보 씨의 생존 의지도 강했다.

6일 동안 개미와 벌 나뭇잎과 주변 계곡물을 먹으며 구조를 기다렸다.

병원으로 옮겨진 라보 씨는 등과 어깨, 팔 등의 골절상을 제외하면 큰 이상이 없는 것으로 밝혀졌다.

응급실에 도착한 라보 씨는 간호사에게 "배가 고프다. 바닷가재 타코와 햄버거가 가장 먹고 싶다"고 말하는 여유를 부렸다고 현지 언론은 전했다.