San Jose crew rescues man stuck in tree

SAN JOSE, Calif.

It took the power of more than 20 men trained for precise urban rescues to pull the man to safety after he'd been clinging to a tree branch for five hours.

The man told police he was running from people when he jumped over the bridge to safety on West San Carlos Street but landed six feet down in a tree below it.

"He apparently had first called 911 somewhere around 4 in the morning. SJPD came out looking for him, and they couldn't find him," said Capt. Rob Brown of the San Jose Fire Department.

It wasn't until the light of day, three and a half hours later, when the man called 911 again. Crews returned, discovered him yelling and losing his grasp on the limb and realized they needed to call for back-up.

In came the Urban Search and Rescue, or USAR, company – a unique and highly-skilled company trained for these types of high-angle rescues.

"What started as a simple call turned into a complex call. We did have our USAR company out here, they set up some hauling systems, were able to lower themselves down, attach a harness to him, and lift him up safely," Brown said.

It's rare for USAR to gets calls to use their specific expertise, but in the last two days, they've had two of these types of rescues.

A Corvette crashed 150 feet down an embankment off Mt. Hamilton Road on Sunday. It took 25 emergency personnel two hours using ropes and pulleys to rescue the trapped driver.

"On a large scale, these are relatively infrequent, but our crews that we call out -- the Urban Search and Rescue crews -- are highly trained in this. This is what they do, this is why we have them in the city," Brown said.

The victim was taken to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries and hypothermia. It will be up to the San Jose Police Department to question him and figure out how he ended up in that position.

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