SOQUEL — A 12-year-old male died early Friday morning when the car he was traveling in plunged over a cliff in the foothills above Soquel Village.
California Highway Patrol officer Julieta Trenado said the victim was the passenger in a stolen 2014 Toyota Prius. A 15-year-old male was driving.
The pair was traveling south on Laurel Glen Road at 5:20 a.m. when, for unknown reasons, the driver lost control. The car shot over the right shoulder of the road about 30 yards north of Old San Jose Road. The sedan tumbled down a steep 114-foot wooded cliff, smashed into a tree and ended up on its side in a creek bed. Witnesses told police the driver managed to crawl out of the wreckage and scramble up to the roadway where he summoned help.
Both boys are from Santa Cruz.
Central firefighters worked their way down to the car where they pronounced the passenger dead, CHP officer Sam Courtney said. A pit bull dog, which survived, was trapped inside the car. Firefighters and other rescuers worked in tandem with a crew from Auto Care Towing of Watsonville to access the wreckage and safely contain the dog. The car was eventually hauled up to the roadway.
A worker from Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter was also on hand to deal with the dog.
The cause of this collision is still under investigation. Distracted driving was alleged to be “an associated factor,” Trenado said.