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Family finds, rescues man who plunged off cliff six days earlier

September 30, 2011 |  8:59 am

Lake Hughes man survives plunge down mountain
The family of a 67-year-old Lake Hughes man celebrated his return Friday after he plunged off the side of a mountain while driving through the Angeles National Forest, then survived for six days eating bugs and leaves and drinking creek water.

Relatives told KTLA they formed a search-and-rescue effort and found David LaVau's car Thursday evening off Lake Hughes Road north of Castaic. They alerted the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

"I hugged him, and we both cried," Sean LaVau told the TV station.

The family was able to access David LaVau's cellphone and credit card records, which showed no activity since Friday. Based on that, family members said, they narrowed their search to Lake Hughes Road.

They spotted the car and Sean LaVau said he slid down the mountain in a frantic effort to reach his father.

"We got credit cards, we got cellphone [records], we broke into his Facebook," Sean LaVau said. He said his 12-year-old daughter was able to break into her grandfather's cellphone and listen to voice-mail messages.

LaVau was airlifted in a helicopter to a hospital. His family said he sustained a broken collarbone and bruises.

There were reports Thursday night that another person was in the car with LaVau, but no details were immediately available. There were also reports that another car, possibly with the body of a man inside, had plunged off the cliff before LaVau's, but it was not clear how it ended up there.

The incident was being investigated by the California Highway Patrol.

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-- Esmeralda Bermudez and KTLA News

Photo: Car crash survivor being taken to a hospital. Credit: KTLA-TV

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