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News in Brief: A summary of developments across Los
Angeles County | Community News File / Malibu

Man Hospitalized After Accident in Rugged Canyon

June 24, 1998

A man who said he drove off the road last week in a rugged section of Latigo Canyon and lost consciousness managed to crawl out Tuesday and make his way to a nearby home, where he was picked up by helicopter and transported to UCLA Medical Center.

Derek C. Smith, 36, of Los Angeles arrived at the hospital Tuesday afternoon with a concussion and suffering from dehydration, said Henry Rodriguez, a county Fire Department inspector.

Smith was in good condition and undergoing medical evaluation, a hospital spokesman said.

Smith told his parents June 16 that he was going for a drive in his sports utility vehicle. He apparently drove the vehicle over the side of a section of Latigo Canyon Road that had a sharp curve, Rodriguez said. In the deep ravine beneath the road, brush had grown to about 15 feet because of the El Nino rains, Rodriguez said.

"He was waiting to be rescued but couldn't find anyone or see anything," said Bryan Fink, a friend of Smith who visited him at the hospital. "He wasn't sure how long he had been unconscious. He doesn't remember going off the road."

Rodriguez said Smith heard a "weed whacker-like sound," followed it until he emerged from the canyon and then eventually made his way to a nearby house, where residents summoned help.

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