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Mountain Biker Rescued While Dangling Head-First Over Side of Calif. Cliff

Rachel DeSantis
·3-min read

Special Enforcement Bureau - LASD/Twitter

A mountain biker who faced a brush with death was rescued in dramatic fashion after he tumbled over a Los Angeles cliffside and became stuck head-first.

The incident unfolded on Thursday at Mt. Wilson Toll Road in the Angeles National Forest, according to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department's Special Enforcement Bureau (SEB).

The SEB said that the man was a biker who'd fallen over the side of a cliff, and was left dangling down before rescuers rappelled down to him on a rope and hoisted him to safety.

"He knew he was in such a precarious situation," Deputy Richard Thomsen told KCBS. "He was just scared to even rotate his head to look at us. He just didn't want to move a muscle."

The man was dangling upside-down about 30 feet below the side of a toll road, hanging on by nothing but a thin cord wrapped around his ankle that was anchored to a bicycle his brother was sitting on, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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Capt. Tom Giandomenico told the outlet that the man's position made things difficult, as trying to send a helicopter down to grab him may have made him fall due to its forceful air, and if he fell, he faced "imminent death."

Luckily for the man, responder Daniel Aleman, a 20-year veteran of the department, devised a plan in which he would rappel down and move the man to a ledge where he could be safely airlifted away.

Because there was no sturdy anchor around, like a tree or a boulder, Aleman had the man's brother and friend be his anchors, and they sat down as Aleman tied rope around them, according to the Times.

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"Thank God, he was OK. That made me feel better. He was just stuck — in a bad spot," Aleman told the outlet.

Eventually, the cord was reportedly cut from the man's ankle, and he was placed in a harness as he and Aleman descended down to a safer spot for the helicopter to grab them.

"I'm happy for him, I really am, because a lot of times we get calls where they really don't turn out that way," Aleman told the Times.

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Deputy Scott Helbing told KCBS that had the man not been able to hang on, he would have fallen hundreds of feet below to the bottom of a canyon.

Giandomenico praised Aleman as a hero, telling the Times it was of the most daring rescues he'd ever witnessed.

"That's one of the more significant, courageous maneuvers I've seen," he said. "Heroic, in my opinion."