EXCLUSIVE: "I Drove Off A Cliff," 911 Calls from Monument Rescue

By: Jessica Zartler Email
By: Jessica Zartler Email

A sex assault suspect who tried to drive off the Colorado National Monument survived a 120–foot drop. In an exclusive story, 11 News takes you inside the rescue with his calls to 911 dispatchers.

Right after deputies interviewed 34–year–old Daniel Lyons about a sex assault case, his mother tells 11 News he tried to drive off of a cliff.

But after falling hundreds of feet, he got stuck on a rock and his van teetering on the edge of a canyon.

11 News Reporter Jessica Zartler just got a hold of his calls to 911 and for the first time we're hearing his painful pleas to dispatchers.

It was almost two weeks ago to the day that Daniel Lyons tried to launch his car off of the side of Rim Rock Road and into Red Canyon.

A rock stopped the fall and moments after he called 911 dozens of firefighters, search and rescue volunteers and park rangers sprang into action.

911: Where's your emergency?
Lyons: The monument.

It was just after 4:30pm on January 23 when dispatchers got the call.

911: What happened.. do you need an ambulance?
Lyons: I drove off a cliff.

34–year–old Daniel Lyons stepped on the gas and drove his van off the side of Rim Rock Road.

911: Aare you pinned?
Lyons: No. I'm in the back of the van. I was able to get out of the driver's seat.

Lyons was teetering on a rock and moaned to dispatchers he was in pain.

911: Stay on the phone. Where are you hurtin?
Lyons: My back.

Dispatchers pleaded with him to stay in the car and asked him where he was.

Lyons: I'm off the roadway. I can't see the road just a marker.

Dispatchers called out the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, surrounding fire departments and park rangers but still didn't' know exactly where to send them.

Fire Crews: Still no idea East or West side?
911: That's a negative sir.

Rescue crews and rangers drove in to the Monument from both sides looking for Lyons while dispatchers tried to keep him on the phone and in the van.

Lyons: It hurst so bad.
911: Stay on the phone.
Lyons: I don't know if I can climb out.
911: We don't want you to try to climb out.

Lyons had been on the phone for 15 minutes and wondered if help was coming.

Lyons: Is somebody near?
911: We're gonna get there as soon as we can.

And just minutes later...

Lyons: I see lights. I see a ranger.

A ranger driving on Rim Rock Road spotted the van.

Ranger: I got a visual the back end is hanging out over two to 300 foot dropoff.

Dispatchers alerted search and rescue and ambulances on their way to the crash.

911: Are you comfortable with me getting off the phone?
Lyons: I'm fine.

And after Lyons hung up, dozens of fire and rescue crews pulled him out on a backboard, carried him up the hill and into an ambulance.

Later Lyons got two tickets.

Rangers say the rescue cost $12,000 but it will come out of a special fund and they say won't affect local projects.

After he got out of the hospital, Lyons was booked in the Mesa County Jail on six counts of sexual assault on a child.

He's being held on a $60,000 bond awaiting his next court appearance which is scheduled for later this month.


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