Don't Try this At Home: Driver's Life Saved By Vegetation and Ledge at Colorado National Monument

Somehow this van, with driver inside, snagged on a cliffside in Colorado National Monument rather than plummeting another 170 feet to the canyon floor. NPS photo.

Every now and then, you have to thank your lucky stars. That, no doubt, is what's going through the mind of a Colorado man who narrowly avoided serious injury, if not certain death, at Colorado National Monument.

Somehow the 34-year-old Grand Junction man drove his 1987 van off Rim Rock Drive in the monument Wednesday evening. Daniel J. Lyons seemed headed to a very, very long drop and a very, very hard and sudden stop. But after rocking and rolling about 120 feet, his rig snagged on vegetation and a rock ledge.

Had the van not stuck, park officials say, Mr. Lyons and his rig would have plummeted another 170 feet.

"It's jaw-dropping," Joan Anzelmo, park superintendent, told the Denver Post. "It got caught on an outcropping of rock; that's what saved his life."

The man's predicament came to light when he dialed 911. (A plus for cell coverage in this park.) Rangers who responded were able to gingerly place Mr. Lyons onto a litter and haul him to safety. He was taken to a Grand Junction hospital, where he was said to be in stable condition.

Now authorities are trying to determine whether the incident really was an accident.

"He feels it was an accident going over the edge of Rim Rock Drive," said Superintendent Anzelmo. "It has all the signs that he intentionally drove off."

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Our local news paper has a slide show of the wreck: http://www.gjsentinel.com/ap/mediahub/media/slideshow/index.jsp?tId=141600