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COIT van goes off cliff, crashes into home

June 21, 2007
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MALIBU, CA -- June 21, 2007 -- A COIT carpet cleaning company van went off a cliff on Hillview Drive and crashed below into a home in Latigo Canyon Friday at 5 p.m. The 22-year-old driver, who jumped out before the van went over the cliff, was uninjured.

A CHP official confirmed the incident, and said Ceasar Gomez of La Puente was driving the black 1997 Dodge Ram. No other vehicles were involved in the accident.

Gomez spoke with The Malibu Times late Tuesday.

He said he had packed up the van and was getting ready to leave and could not release the parking brake. The van was parked in a driveway, just west of Oceanview Drive.

He tried several times to release the brake, putting it in Drive mode, and then "it just snapped on its own," Gomez said. "The van started rolling down the hill; it was just a little stretch from the driveway to the cliff. Luckily, I had the door open."

Gomez said he tried to control the van, but "lost it," and on "instinct," he got out before it hit a light post, stopped and then went off the cliff.

Gomez went down to the house that the van smashed into on Escondido Drive to wait for the CHP. Sheriff's deputies and paramedics had responded immediately to the scene. He said the van had appeared to crash into the back of the home, causing damage to the kitchen area.

"I was real nervous," Gomez said. "I thought it might have landed on someone, didn't see where it went. But once I realized it didn't hurt anyone, I was relieved."

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