SUV drives off Coalinga cliff getting away from scene of crime

Police and firefighters completed a complicated rescue after an SUV trying to get away from the scene of a crime drove off a cliff at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday in the Coalinga area -- just off Phelps and Calaveras.

Coalinga police reported the SUV rolled over and dropped about 50 feet off a cliff, so rescue crews had a hard time getting to the people inside.

Photos from the scene show the SUV in the creek after everyone got out and paramedics started to treat them.

Fire crews, Coalinga police, and CHP officers worked together on the rescue, and they got both people out, but both of them suffered major injuries, and they had to leave the SUV down there for the time being.

Investigators are still trying to identify the people involved in the crash because they're suspects in a crime. They know the passenger was a 15-year-old Coalinga resident, but they say the driver gave them various names, so they're not sure yet who he is.

Coalinga police say they were in the process of stealing gasoline when someone spotted them and followed them out of town while directing police where to go. The witness told police he saw the SUV go off the road and officers got there about a minute later.
Police determined the driver blasted through a barbed-wire fence, drove across a field and over the 40-foot embankment into the flowing creek below.

Police later spotted three cars with drill holes in their gas tanks.
The city has had a recent rash of gasoline thefts.
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