ABC7 News photographer describes terrifying landslide experience

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A driver who narrowly survived a landslide in the Santa Cruz Mountains Tuesday was struck in the same spot where another landslide injured an ABC7 News photographer a month ago. (KGO-TV)

A driver who narrowly survived a landslide in the Santa Cruz Mountains Tuesday was struck in the same spot where another landslide injured an ABC7 News photographer a month ago.

RELATED: ABC7 News van wrecked by mudslide on Highway 17 near Scotts Valley

He is recovering at home and after seeing the images from Tuesday's landslide he shared his story of survival with us.

"Oh my God, the airbag went off, Jesus Christ, the whole--the whole mountain came down on top of me," said Ian Babcock as he filmed inside the live truck.

Babcock found himself trapped inside his vehicle as trees and rocks fell from above. It was three in the morning and he was on his way to work.

"The whole mountain just exploded in front of me," he said. "It just--it didn't come down in front of me. It came straight--sideways...that was it. I hit a boulder at 45 miles per hour."

CHP video shows what became of the van--mangled beyond recognition, but the impact was just the beginning.

He says for a moment the world went black but then, "I could feel the truck getting raised up onto two wheels and the sound at that point was deafening," said Babcock. "I'm getting pushed off the highway as there's boulders coming in and branches coming in and I'm thinking, 'This is it, I'm done.'

The slide finally stopped and a driver pulled over to help. The driver saw wires across the hood so Ian decided to wait for authorities.

He told the good samaritans to be careful.

Firefighters pried open the door and he stepped out of the vehicle in disbelief.

Highway 17 is a major artery for commuters and those who drive it every day know landslides are an ever-present danger. The volatility of Highway 17 is a fact of life.

Not a month after the slide was cleaned up it happened again in the same spot.

"It floored me, it really did," Babcock told ABC7 News. "And I was thinking, 'Yep, I knew that was going to happen.'"

That driver also survived and is perhaps the only person who knows quite how Ian felt the moment the earth came crashing down.

RELATED: 1 lane of Highway 17 near Scotts Valley reopens after landslide

"I became the story and I really didn't want to," he said. "I'm just glad I'm alive.

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Related Topics:
weathermudslidelandslideaccidentcar accidentcar accidentssurvivor storystormstorm damagewindwind damagemountainshighway 17Scotts Valley
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