A man who stopped to help a crashed driver on the Pine Valley Creek Bridge fell to his death Wednesday while trying to avoid another crash, California Highway Patrol said.
The man’s body was found under the East County San Diego bridge, one of the highest in the U.S., after a daring search by rescuers using a helicopter.
CHP said the as-yet-unidentified 32-year-old man stopped to help a driver in a Chevy pick-up truck who spun out on a patch of ice on westbound I-8 and crashed into the bridge’s railing sometime before 5:10 a.m.
Moments later, another truck swerved to avoid the first crash and collided with a Kia Sorento. A fourth car then slammed into the back of the Kia, CHP said.
In an attempt to avoid the oncoming cars, the 32-year-old man ran to the side of the bridge and jumped over the rail, CHP said. He did not survive the fall.
Officers on scene initially thought the good Samaritan, who was driving a Subaru, may have crashed into the spun-out truck and been ejected from the vehicle.
Officers later learned he had stopped to help the stranded driver.
The man’s body was found in a snow-covered canyon under the Pine Valley Creek Bridge by a chopper that was weaving through support beams during the search.
While the chopper spotted the body just before 7 a.m., crews were still coming up with a plan to retrieve the body hours later.
The other victims involved in the crash, including a 4-month-old infant, were all believed to be accounted for, firefighters said. Only minor injuries were reported but medics did transport one person to the hospital.
The crash on the bridge leading to and from San Diego’s mountain ranges happened after about a week’s worth of rain and snow from three separate storm systems.
At 450 feet tall, the Pine Valley Creek Bridge is the 11th highest bridge in the U.S., according to World Atlas.
While rain had cleared Wednesday morning, forecasters warned that roads would remain icy for several more days.
CHP said conditions on the bridge at the time of the crash were foggy, icy and snowy.
A CHP officer told an NBC 7 News crew the bridge conditions were so unsafe reporters could not be on it.
Caltrans crews dumped a truckload of sand to de-slick the roadway enough to to remove the vehicles after the crashes. During, traffic was reduced to one lane on westbound I-8.