Woman's New iPhone Saves Her, Boyfriend After Crash

Device's Crash Detection, Emergency SOS features alerted rescuers after car plunged into canyon
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2022 8:43 AM CST
Woman's New iPhone Saves Her, Boyfriend After Crash
Rescue personnel are seen at the crash site in the Angeles National Forest.   (Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, via Los Angeles Times)

The new iPhone 14 debuted in September, boasting such perks as a new dual-camera system, better battery life, and a 5-core GPU for smoother graphics while gaming. But it's the device's Crash Detection and Emergency SOS features that Cloe Fields is grateful for after she and her boyfriend survived a terrifying car crash in California's Angeles National Forest. The 23-year-old freelance video editor tells the New York Times that she and Christian Zelada, 24, went for a drive on Dec. 13 and were headed home to Glendale when a woman in a white Mercedes started tailgating and blasting her horn at them on the two-lane Angeles Crest Highway running through the national forest. Fields says Zelada tried to pull over to let the other vehicle pass, but their car skidded on some loose gravel and ended up plunging over the side of the highway.

Their Hyundai Elantra fell 300 feet into the forest's Monkey Canyon, hitting a couple of trees on the way down and landing upside down next to a stream. Fields tells the Washington Post the fall took about 15 seconds, during which she started hyperventilating while Zelada kept repeating, "We're OK." Amazingly, once the car landed, the pair discovered they weren't seriously injured, and they climbed out of the car and found Fields' iPhone in the dirt. There was no cell service, so they couldn't call 911—but there was no need, because the device's Crash Detection feature had already alerted authorities they'd been in an accident. Fields was then able to trigger the phone's Emergency SOS feature, which can connect with emergency responders via satellite. Within 30 minutes, authorities had the couple's latitude and longitude and had found them in the canyon.

Fields and Zelada were airlifted to a local hospital, suffering only bruises, cuts, and sore necks from the accident. Sgt. John Gilbert of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department tells the New York Times it's a "miracle" they survived, as "we"re normally dealing with a fatality" whenever other cars have fallen into that canyon. "Without any of that [technology], we wouldn't have been alerted to the fact that they had gone over the side of the mountain, and nobody would have known to look for them," he tells the Los Angeles Times, adding that even though the couple escaped the crash itself with minor injuries, they were facing a frigid night in the canyon, with possible hypothermia looming, if they weren't found. The LAT notes that Emergency SOS service is free for two years after a customer purchases the iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Pro. (More iPhone stories.)

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