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Feb 4, 2014 9:54 PM by Victoria Johnson

Helicopter lifts car off mountain in Morro Bay

About six weeks ago, a driver got stuck on a dirt road off Highway 41 near Morro Bay.Roadside assistance couldn't help so a helicopter was called in to do the job a tow truck couldn't. The terrain in the area is steep. A heavy lift helicopter flew in from Hollister to hoist an SUV off the mountain. "Basically, the kid was taking the scenic route home following GPS on his phone on TV Tower Road and thought it was a back way home. It turned into a hiking trail and he slid off the road," said John Coulter, a tow truck driver for John Boy's Towing. The only way off the mountain for the 4,000 pound vehicle was to be air lifted. Even the helicopter mechanic says it's not the usual job they get called to do. "It's definitely different. You don't see it all the time. It is a unique thing. Normally they pick up air conditioners so picking up cars is pretty unusual," said Patrick Filice, a helicopter mechanic for Aris. It took two trips. The first trip was to take the car off the mountain and the second one was to retrieve the doors and tires. The doors and tires had to be taken off to make the load lighter for the helicopter. They were also removed so crews could run a thick cable through the car to connect it to the helicopter. Once the car was on the ground, the tires had to be put back on the SUV to finally tow it away. "The hindsight is, if you are starting GPS on your phone and it doesn't look too good, you might want to turn around and go a different way," said Coulter. The helicopter bill alone will cost more than $6,600. The tow truck driver told KSBY the driver's insurance company is covering the cost. There was a bit of traffic back up today in that area of Highway 41. Caltrans crews were cleaning up a rockslide that happened overnight. Those crews were enforcing one way traffic control between Two Tunnel Road and Cerro Alto campground. It took a few hours to clear the rocks off the highway. Also, the helicopter dropped off the SUV in the same area the road work was being done, so no additional closures were needed.

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