Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information about the former service member. The former service member is a retired Navy corpsman and the story has been corrected. We apologize for the error.
CARLSBAD, Calif. — A retired Navy corpsman sprang into action Tuesday when he saw an SUV plunge off a Carlsbad cliff, landing on the beach below.
“It was literally you saw vehicle, sky, water, cliff. That’s how high and how hard he bounced and went in,” William Schulberg said.
Schulberg said he and his wife, Grace, just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
It was just after 5 p.m. when a man driving a white Subaru Forrester went through a guardrail and fence at Carlsbad Boulevard and Palomar Airport Road before plummeting onto the beach below.
After calling 911, Schulberg and his wife ran to the edge.
“I saw the vehicle and I saw movement in the vehicle. The first thing I thought is I can’t get down there to him,” Schulberg said.
But he found a way to run down the cliff as his wife watched from above. Schulberg began trying to open the door when a woman on the beach ran over to help him.
“I got the window pushed down far enough where she was able to try and unlock the door and she we unlocked the door, I still couldn’t get the door open,” he said.
He knew he had to act fast as the SUV was drifting farther out.
“The water was coming in up to the guy’s chest and everything about that time,” he said.
He climbed on top of the SUV and tried to pull from a different angle and wondered if he should cut the victim’s seatbelt. That’s when Schulberg said Carlsbad police showed up.
“We all reached in there and pulled the guy up and I got him up on the shore. That’s where I did a preliminary exam of his injuries and everything and stabilized the wounds and injuries as best as I could. Once I saw they had the scene in hand I walked away, ” Schulberg said.
Schulberg said he isn’t a hero, just a man who was in the right place at the right time.
“Those guys are the heroes. I just was an innocent person being there,” he said.
A spokesperson for California State Parks said they are still investigating the cause of the crash.