GOOD NEWS
10/15/2014 05:04 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Woman Trapped For 18 Hours After Car Wreck Rescued Thanks To 'Find My iPhone' App

After spending 18 hours trapped in her car at the bottom of a 500-foot deep ravine, a California woman was rescued by officials Tuesday morning -- thanks to an ingenious police officer and an app on her iPad.

Melissa Vasquez, 28, lost control of her Chevrolet Cruze around 2 p.m. Monday, driving off the road east of San Jose, California, and tumbling hundreds of feet down a steep slope, ultimately coming to rest in a spot where the OnStar GPS system in her car couldn't pinpoint her precise location, say police.

At 3 a.m. on Tuesday morning, Vasquez's family called the police to report her missing after she failed to return home. Campbell Police Officer Dave Cameron, who responded to the house, asked her family if Vasquez had an iPad with "Find My iPhone" on it -- an app that lets a user remotely track down their phone in the event they misplace it.

Vasquez's stepmother found the iPad, and though it was locked, Cameron -- who acknowledged he's "kind of a tech geek" to SFGate -- guessed the password after only 3 or 4 tries using his knowledge of common password combinations.

From there, using the Find My iPhone feature, Officer Cameron pinpointed Vasquez's location on a map, then sent a screenshot of the map to San Jose Police Department Officers, who found the vehicle 20 minutes later.

By 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, nearly a full day after the accident, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter responded and transported Vasquez to Regional Medical Center, where police say she's in stable condition.

The day before, the OnStar system in Vasquez's car had alerted authorities to an accident in San Jose and first responders searched the area for two hours while OnStar honked the car horn remotely, reported CBS San Francisco, in an attempt to clue them in to the car's location, but with no luck. At around 4 p.m., a second OnStar signal indicated the car was in downtown San Jose, though police didn't find the vehicle there, either. Officers told the San Jose Mercury News they responded by issuing a "be on the lookout" for the car to other law enforcement agencies in the county.

Reached for comment by CBS San Francisco, an OnStar spokesman declined an interview request, but released this statement:

We are saddened by this incident involving one of our subscribers. Our subscribers’ safety and security is OnStar’s utmost concern. We are currently conducting a complete investigation, including information we have received from our call centers, our cellular network provider, our engineering team and the local authorities to better understand what occurred.

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