By Adrienne Moore

RANCHO CORDOVA (CBS13) — A Rancho Cordova father and son were rescued after their car plunged 500 feet down a cliff along Highway 49 in Mariposa County.

The outcome could have been tragic had it not been for a quick response. This happened on Monday at the height of the region’s wild weather.

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Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremey Briese said that “quick response” is all thanks to the sharp eye of a firefighter, who just happened to be passing by.

The roads were a mess, but a firefighter with Cal Fire who was heading back from a call noticed a road marker was down and pulled over to figure out why.

The California Highway Patrol said Scott Anderson, 51, was traveling with his son, 11, when he lost control of his Toyota while making a turn in the rain. The car flipped several times before tumbling into a ditch out of sight.

“The Cal Fire employee noticed signs of possibly a traffic accident or this delineator down,” the sheriff said. “They’re brave actions and their skills were able to find this vehicle.”

The four-hour operation complicated by rain and steep terrain was pulled off by sheer heroics on a highway where trouble can easily hide.

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“The area that this car went off is an extremely steep canyon and it’s an extremely rural area of the county,” Sheriff Briese said.

A small army of search and rescue teams muscled through the mission to pull a father a son up the 500-foot cliff.

“I know the ropes they were using were 600-foot ropes, and once they reached the patients, they had about 100 feet left,” Sheriff Briese said.

We’re told Anderson and his son suffered moderate injuries. At last check, they were still in nearby hospitals. Investigators say both were wearing their seatbelts.

“Definitely, somebody was looking out for them,” Sheriff Briese said.

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The CHP said alcohol or drugs are not factors in the crash.

Adrienne Moore