A woman survived an 18-hour ordeal trapped in her car at the bottom of a 500-foot ravine in California. Thanks to the app "Find my iPhone" and a determined police officer, Melissa Vasquez was rescued last Tuesday, following an accident in which she lost control of her car and drove off the road east of San Jose.
The 28-year-old woman's Chevrolet Cruze fell hundreds of feet down the ravine at about 2 p.m. Monday afternoon. Police say the final location of her car was not detectable by her OnStar device, a GPS locator installed in many vehicles.
Her worried family reported the woman missing at 3 a.m. Tuesday morning, after she failed to return home. Enter Campbell Police Officer Dave Cameron -- who is a self-proclaimed geek, the San Francisco Gate reports. Cameron asked if Vasquez had an iPad with a "Find my iPhone" app installed in it. The app allows a user to locate an iPhone remotely in case of loss or theft.
When the missing woman's stepmother found the iPad, it was locked, but officer Cameron was able to use his computer skills to break her password and find the app. Within minutes, he had determined the location of Vasquez's iPhone and sent a screenshot to the San Jose Police Department, who were able to locate her car 20 minutes later.
At around 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, a U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue helicopter was pulling the trapped woman -- who was badly injured -- from her car and she was transported to the hospital and was in stable condition at the time, according to police.
In this case, the "Find My iPhone" app proved more helpful than the OnStar system mounted inside the car. Police said the technology helped and complicated the search, after General Motors sent an alert that the car was in an accident.
Captain Gary Berg said crews searched the area where the accident happened for two hours, however, the pegged location wasn't correct. When police asked OnStar to honk the horn remotely, nothing happened. Officers also tried turning on their sirens from different locations in hopes that OnStar would pick it up, but no luck again.
Officers also called Vasquez's cell phone provider, which located her phone within seven miles, but were still unable to find the vehicle. The woman had been trapped for hours at this point. That is when Officer Cameron arrived at the stepmother's house.
"So I made an educated guess, based on a series of common numbers people use for passwords," Cameron -- who is a SWAT team member and accident reconstruction specialist but is known within the department as "kind of a tech geek" -- told the media.
"Amazingly, Officer Cameron was able to guess the correct password after only 3-4 tries using his knowledge of commonly used password combinations," officials said.
The ordeal that trapped the woman at the bottom of a ravine was over.
Would you feel safer with OnStar or a "Find My iPhone" app if you were trapped in a car for hours?