“You’re gonna die” was the only thing going through the man’s mind as he launched off the side of a Santa Monica cliff to land 250 feet down the mountainside, but he didn’t, albeit just barely. Every terrifying second was captured by a bike mounted go-pro.
July 27 was a nice day for a spin in the mountains near his home in Calabasas, California so 27-year-old Matthew Murray gassed up his bike and headed for the hills. Amy Murray, Matthew’s mom, says he loved his motorcycle. “He’s been on a bike for six years,” she said. “Unfortunately, he loved the thrill of it.”
“I love taking corners… this corner wasn’t even sharp,” Matt says. “I was only doing forty.” He describes how he tried to make the turn but his Yamaha FZ-10 would not cooperate. “I went to lean into this turn and the bike would not lean.” While the video above shows he was doing less than 40 mph at the time he left the roadway, another copy shows he was decelerating from almost 70 mph before he hit the turn.
As it became clear that him and his bike were about to go airborne, sailing for the horizon, Matthew says, “It processed immediately in my head that you’re gonna die.” Trees along the slope of the mountain probably saved the young man’s life. Go-pro footage shows Matt’s bike crashing through the branches. He came to rest 250 feet below the roadway but his bike landed even further down. It took about a minute and a half before Murray regained consciousness and started yelling for help.
The man quickly realized that yelling was not going to attract much attention. His phone was with his bike. “I tried to walk to my motorcycle to get to my cell phone to call 911 but I couldn’t walk down hill so I just turned around and I started to make my way up. Halfway up the hill I think I went into shock” Matthew explains.
The way Matt was able to force himself to climb the mountain is an amazing example of dogged determination. Not knowing how seriously he was injured, he did know the only way he was going to live through the day was to make it out of the ravine. “People have to fight or flight, I just decided to fight,” Matthew accounted.
His legs were not working so he dragged himself back up the nearly vertical slope using only his arms. “Honestly, my legs were done so I just kind of crawled up and once I made it to the top I just collapsed.” After collapsing by the side of the road, he managed to flag down a passing motorist who called a rescue team.
Recovery is expected to take months. Matthew broke his back along with his collarbone, hip, sacrum and pelvis. He also fractured his sternum as ribs punctured both lungs.
A highway patrol officer visited Matthew in the hospital and showed him some video they had taken to document the scene. “There’s your bike and that’s where you landed, 250 feet down there,” the CHP officer said, pointing out spots in the rugged terrain. “The last guy I saw come out of here was in a basket in a helicopter ride.”
Matthew says when he gets better he has no plans to ever get back on a bike. He does not even like seeing the movie he shot. “He can’t believe he’s alive, he can’t watch the whole video,” his mom said. “He thought he was dead. As he was flying, his thought through his head was, ‘I’m dying,’” she said. “So this is what dead feels like.”
California’s Pacific coast highway sees its share of dramatic crashes too. The coast guard had to be called in to rescue elementary teacher’s assistant Mary Menken. The 25 year old lost control on the winding curves near Malibu when a blowout sent her car careening over the embankment. She was trapped in her car which dangled precariously half way up the side of the cliff above the breaking waves. Ms. Menken owes the Coast Guard her life for a daring and dramatic rescue. “We have highly trained men and women who are ready to go at a moment’s notice in all weather and in any location. It’s not unusual for us to intervene when someone needs help in an automobile accident,” says Lieutenant Christopher Cooper.