Ketchikan man critically injured after driving off cliff

Posted: Wednesday, May 31, 2000

KETCHIKAN (AP) -- A Ketchikan man remained in critical condition Tuesday after driving his four-wheel drive vehicle off a cliff.

Joshua N. Ruffner, 25, was going about 100 mph early Sunday when he drove his Honda CRX through a stop sign on Revilla Road, across North Tongass Highway and off an embankment, landing on Gateway Forest Products property, said state trooper Jim Truesdelle.

Ruffner was taken to Seattle's Harborview Medical Center. His injuries included a spinal fracture; facial fractures; and head, leg and abdominal injuries.

''Basically he jumped his car off a cliff into what is essentially a gravel pit,'' Truesdelle said.

A security guard who was making his rounds at Gateway Forest Products witnessed the accident.

The security guard told troopers that all he saw was ''a flash of light across the road,'' Truesdelle said.

Ruffner, who apparently was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown about 125 feet from the car.

''At some point during the rotation, he was ejected through the rear window,'' Truesdelle said.

Ruffner had been drinking heavily with friends camping in the Ward Lake area. His friends told troopers when everyone went to sleep, Ruffner headed to his car. When he got in and started it, they attempted to stop him but without success.

''One of the guys jumped on his car and was banging on the windshield, telling him to stop,'' he said.

Speeding on Revilla Road is popular with local teens, said Truesdelle.

''The kids around here seem to think Revilla Road is their own personal race track,'' he said. ''I'm just amazed that we haven't had something like this before.''

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