Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - A man is in critical condition after his car plunged over a cliff in Duluth Tuesday morning.
The Duluth Fire Department responded to an accident just after 7am on the 8700 block of Congdon Blvd after the car careened over a guardrail, falling approximately 50 - 75 feet, landing next to Lake Superior.
According to authorities, when units arrived, the only man in the car was semi-conscious, but very cold.
Authorities say the car was cold to the touch, indicating the vehicle had been there for some time. The temperature at the time of the rescue was -13 degrees.
The man was extricated from the car, and brought up
the cliff to the roadside via a stokes stretcher and a rope haul system.
He was taken to St. Luke's Hospital in critical condition.
A witness, Ken Greshowak, says the vehicle was airborne about 60 feet before crashing into a boulder by Lake Superior.
Greshowak says he didn't know how long the man had been stuck in his car.
Fire officials say the incident could have ended differently.
They say hypothermia starts to set in when your body reaches 95 degrees or lower.
When rescue officials respond to a scene involving a hypothermic victim, they assess the victim's body very carefully before doing anything else.
"We actually tend to leave them cold if they are moderately or severely hypothermic because the thawing process can be dangerous. Our biggest effort is not to move them until we have to, or we move them very gently," said Captain John Wisneski of the Duluth Fire Department.
The incident is still under investigation.