ABC News’ David Wright reports:
200 feet below a twisting, turning road in Southern California, the family of David La Vau didn’t just find a miracle.
They helped make it happen.
“We stopped at every ravine and looked over every hill,” La Vau’s daughter, Lisa, told Los Angeles’ KTLA TV. “We kept screaming and we heard dad scream ‘help, help,’ and there he was!”
The 67-year-old grandfather had survived for six days after his car plunged into a ravine off a mountain road in the Angeles National Forest.
Even though he had broken several ribs, dislocated his collarbone, dislocated his shoulder and suffered multiple fractures in his back, he managed to fashion a makeshift camp, eating bugs and leaves and drinking water from a nearby creek, his daughter said.
“The car is just horrific,” Lisa La Vau said. “I don’t know how he survived, and got out.”
Lisa La Vau and her three siblings became suspicious when their dad failed to return home last Friday, and they didn’t hear from him for days.
“My dad would never not call his kids,” she said. “By the time of the fourth, fifth, sixth day, we knew something was wrong.”
The family reported their father missing to police but, when the search by authorities went nowhere, the siblings took matters into their own hands and formed their own search.
They hacked into his Facebook account and searched his cell phone records to figure out his last-known whereabouts.
The break in the case came when La Vau’s bank told the family he had used his debit card at a nearby grocery store. Lisa, her daughter and brother, Sean, then began driving the route from the store to their dad’s home in Lake Hughes, Calif., retracing his last known steps.
After stopping at every curve in the road along the way, Sean La Vau finally heard what he described to Los Angeles County authorities as, “faint yells for help on the roadway from the canyon below.”
The trio made their way down the ravine, about 50 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, to find him alive, and with one request.
“Can I have some chocolate milk?,” he asked his rescuers, according to KCAL.
La Vau was pulled from the ravine around 6 p.m. Thursday by a Los Angeles County Fire Department paramedic lowered to him from a helicopter.
He was evaluated and taken to Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital where he is expected to undergo surgery later today.
None of the injuries was life-threatening though, the hospital said.
“It’s unusual for someone to survive in these circumstances and come out as stable as he is” said Dr. Garrett Sutter, an emergency physician at Henry Mayo.
Firefighters remained on the scene Thursday and found a nearby vehicle containing the body of a deceased driver, according to Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Mark Savage.
The identity of that driver has not been released while authorities turned his body over to the coroner’s office.
There were no details yet on how either La Vau’s car or the other vehicle ended up off the road. The California Highway Patrol is taking over the crash investigation.
Meanwhile, La Vau’s family remains amazed that their 67-year-old dad survived the ordeal, and humbled that it was them who found him.
“These were ordinary people working together,” said his son Sean, who added the family’s story shows both the importance of not giving up hope and the importance of family sticking together.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.