Pair rescued from canyon

March 10, 2003 12:00 am

By CHRIS BATEMAN

A couple was rescued from the wreckage of a pickup after it left Highway 120 early Saturday evening and plunged more than 600 feet off New Priest Grade into the canyon.

Driver Eva De Luna Santacruz, 29, of Mexico, was taken by helicopter to Memorial North Medical Center in Modesto. She was reported in fair condition this morning with a cut right arm, a broken right elbow and numerous external injuries. Her passenger, Alvaro Santacruz, 27, also of Mexico, was flown to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto with cuts and stomach pain. His condition was not available this morning.

According to the California Highway Patrol, Eva Santacruz was driving west about 6:30 p.m. when she crossed the double-yellow line to pass several slower vehicles east of Ferndale. Her pickup then left the road after she entered a right curve too fast.

According to the Highway Patrol, the pickup "vaulted off a steep mountainside" and "overturned numerous times" before coming to rest at the bottom of the canyon.

Tuolumne County Search and Rescue Team and crews from the Groveland Community Services District Fire Department, the Tuolumne County Fire Department and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection responded to a 6:49 p.m. 911 call.

The rescue operation took more than two hours.