Video Captures Dramatic San Francisco Cliff Rescue

San Francisco rescue workers made a dramatic save from the air of a man clinging to a steep cliff over the sea on Friday.

The man, who officials said was homeless, hiked to a frightening height on a cliff near China Beach in the northern end of the city and apparently became paralyzed with fear. Surfers saw the hiker clinging to the sheer rock face and called 911, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Fire rescue crews were unable to safely reach him from the ground, so a helicopter team from the California Highway Patrol dropped a rescuer, who strapped him into a harness and they were both airlifted to safety.

The chopper set down on a helipad and the hiker — in sweatpants, a T-shirt, and sneakers — stepped off into a parking lot. He can be seen on the ABC-7 News video gesticulating, perhaps explaining his hiking adventure to the firefighters around him. He suffered only minor bruises and refused medical attention, according to a tweet from the Fire Department. He simply walked away after his hair-raising ordeal. Fire officials didn’t reveal his identity, nor any details about how he found himself clinging to a cliff.

Hikers often get stranded on the steep hills edging the sea in San Francisco and Marin Country. They either become frozen with fear suddenly in the heights, or are forced to scramble up sheer rocks as the Pacific tide comes in, stranding them where it’s impossible to climb out.

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