OC Sheriff helicopter assists rescue of motorcyclist in Laguna Beach

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An Orange County Sheriff’s Department helicopter hoists a downed motorcyclist in Laguna Beach on Aug. 23. Photo courtesy of Brian Isley.

A traffic collision involving a motorcyclist prompted a hoist rescue by an Orange County Sheriff helicopter crew on Sunday near South Coast Highway and Solana Way.

The Laguna Beach Fire and Police departments responded to a call at 4:58 p.m. regarding a downed motorcyclist. Two paramedic engines arrived at the collision site involving a motorcyclist and one vehicle, Laguna Beach Engineer Paramedic Pat Cary said.

Laguna Beach issued a Nixle alert at about 5:30 p.m. on Sunday advising residents a helicopter was in the city responding to a traffic collision.

Two patients were treated by Laguna Beach paramedics including the critically injured motorcycle rider, a 40-year-old Orange resident. The driver and passenger of the involved were not injured in the collision, Laguna Beach Police Sgt. Jim Cota said.

“We were dispatched to a rescue or a lift in reference to a person who needed to be transported and due to traffic they requested air support,” said Sgt. Dennis Breckner, a spokesperson for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

Mercy Air normally responds to roadway incidents but projected an extended arrival time. Typically, the Sheriff’s Department Air Support Unit will step in if it will take Mercy Air more than 30 minutes to respond, Breckner said. Both the Orange County Fire Authority and Sheriff’s Department have the capability to hoist patients if the terrain doesn’t allow for a helicopter to land, Cary said.

In this case, the flight crew decided to hoist the motorcyclist because the stretch of South Coast Highway for too narrow for the aircraft to safely land, Breckner said.

Helicopter crew members transported the patient Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, Cota said.

The vehicle hit from behind by the motorcycle was driven into the Casa Laguna Hotel, damaging a pillar in a breezeway next to the main building, Cota said. A city building inspector responded to test the structure’s integrity and is working with the owner.

A video posted to a local Facebook group shows the Sheriff helicopter briefly landed on the athletic field at St. Catherine of Siena Parish School.

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Daniel is currently managing editor for the Laguna Beach Independent. He first started reporting on Laguna Beach in 2018. Daniel moved to Orange County from his hometown of Santa Barbara in 2008 to attend Chapman University. He wrote for the college newspaper, The Panther, for nearly four years before obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and English with an emphasis in journalism. While attending Chapman, he started interning at the Orange County Register as a community blogger in Orange. In 2012, he was hired as a staff writer covering Orange and Villa Park. He went on to cover the Nixon Presidential Library & Museum as well as housing, development, education, water, and local politics in other Orange County cities. Since leaving the Register in 2015, he has written for Law360, the Foothills Sentry, the Newport Beach Independent, the Laguna Beach Independent, Los Angeles Times Community News, BehindtheBadge.com, and the California Business Journal. When Daniel isn't busy covering Laguna Beach, he serves as ​engagement editor for a nonprofit newsroom, The War Horse. He lives in Irvine with his wife and son.

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