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Motorcyclist Who Discovered Car Off Highway 1 in Pescadero Saw "Half Naked" Victim Crawling On Beach, Then Called 911

Roland te Nijenhuis was riding down Highway 1 with a friend and had stopped to enjoy the view on Saturday afternoon when he witnessed victim Joseph Pearlman's overturned car.

A man riding his motorcycle down Highway 1 on Saturday afternoon was the person who called 911 after discovering the above Pescadero State Beach located about 15 miles south of downtown Half Moon Bay.

Joseph Pearlman, a 65-year-old man from Sunnyvale, was the driver of the car, according to Lt. Ray Lunny of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office. Lunny Pearlman's name shortly after 4:15 pm today.

The sighting was a chance discovery, as the car -- which had fallen approximately 100 feet below the cliff, according to rescue authorities -- could only be seen by standing at the very edge of the cliff and looking down, said Roland te Nijenhuis, a Mountain View resident who works in information technology. 

"I never expected the car to be there. That place is one of my favorite spots to stop along the road," said te Nijenhuis, who said he spotted the car sometime between 2 p.m. and 2:10 p.m. The section of Highway 1 where te Nijenhuis stood has no guardrail. te Nijenhuis said he was comfortable standing at the very edge of the cliff and looking down, as it gives him the same feeling as paragliding and parachuting out of planes.

"When I looked down, I saw what looked like a half-naked man with his pants down, crawling on the beach," te Nijenhuis said. "I didn’t know if that person had something to do with the car -- he could have been a drunk man," he said.

"But I just thought I'd call and hope it wasn't a false alarm because it looked like the person needed help," te Nijenhuis said.

"I was a bit upset with 911 as they were not responding the way I expected them to respond," te Nijenhuis said. "They said 'We’ll send someone to check it out the area, and you don't have to stay there and wait,' which to me was too flaky," he said. "I said to them 'I think there may be someone dying here,'" he said.

te Nijenhuis asked his friend who was riding with him that day to call 911 again from one of the yellow call boxes located along Highway 1, "because I thought it might help to give them the exact location where we were," he said.

In the meantime, according to te Nijenhuis, he saw two people walking down on the beach that appeared to have discovered Pearlman.

"I saw them talking and I whistled and shouted and gave them sign language that I had called 911," te Nijenhuis said, who was still standing at the top of the cliff on Highway 1 at this time.

"But I think we had a communication problem," he said, "because then the people wrote in the sand 'HELP,' 'HE IS IN SHOCK,' and then '911.'" (See photo where te Nijenhuis has identified Pearlman as the dark object in the photo near the base of the cliffs). 

"The people on the beach put a towel over him," te Nijenhuis said.

te Nijenhuis said that despite what 911 told him, he did not feel comfortable leaving the scene until authorities arrived. "If I wasn't there, they'd have to guess where the person was, and I felt it was not responsible," he said. "I talked to an officer when he arrived and gave him my name and phone number," he said.

Calls to Stanford Hospital in regards to Pearlman's current condition have not been returned at the time of publication.

Joanne February 08, 2011 at 05:42 AM
Thank God for to this caring man who stayed the course until help finally arrived to rescue this poor man.
Suzanne Black February 08, 2011 at 02:46 PM
The two people on the beach should be commended as well for the presence of mind to cover the man with whatever was available and to scrape very legible messages in the sand for anyone on the road's edge or in the air to see.
robin coleman February 09, 2011 at 04:15 PM
Good samaritans all deserve my/our gratitude.

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