April 27, 2011 / 6:03 PM / 7 years ago

Man drives car into Grand Canyon, survives

PHOENIX (Reuters) - A man survived with injuries after driving his car over the south rim of the Grand Canyon by accident, authorities said on Wednesday.

<p>South Rim of the Grand Canyon as seen from the South Kaibab trail in this photo taken January 2, 2008. REUTERS/Rickey Rogers</p>

The unidentified driver, aged 21, was treated for nonlife threatening injuries in a Flagstaff hospital on Monday after plunging 200 feet over the lip of the mile-deep chasm, a spokeswoman for the Grand Canyon National Park said.

The driver, whose name is being withheld pending completion of an investigation, was saved from dropping further into the canyon after his car struck a large pine tree, spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge said.

“He was an extremely lucky individual,” Oltrogge told Reuters by telephone.

The incident came to light after a visitor to the park called authorities on Monday night to report that he had found an injured man in the roadway near the Twin Overlooks, just short of the canyon.

The man told the visitor that he had accidentally driven his vehicle over the canyon rim. The visitor called the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center and reported the accident.

The driver told park rangers that he had extricated himself from the car, climbed up to the rim and flagged down a passing motorist.

Park rangers subsequently located the vehicle lodged up against the pine, and are developing a plan to remove it. An investigation into the incident is being conducted by the National Park Service.

The Grand Canyon is one of the top tourist draws in the United States, visited by 4.5 million people a year.

Around 6,500 vehicles enter the park each day in the summer season, according to www.nationalparkstraveler.com, although Oltrogge said instances of cars plunging into the canyon are rare.

Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Greg McCune

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