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1 killed after car drives off cliff

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This photo on the Facebook page of the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services shows the wrecked and burning vehicle. (DFEMS)

A vehicle drove off an area of Suicide Cliff in Marpi at around 4pm yesterday, plunging into the rocks below and killing the driver.

Department of Public Safety spokesperson Dre Pangelinan later released a statement that police at the scene found the car’s driver to be “unresponsive” and had the victim rushed to the hospital, the Commonwealth Health Center.

A separate statement from the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services said that its personnel were “able to recover the deceased,” presumably referring to the car’s driver.

Pangelinan said that DPS received a call at around 4:34pm from an eyewitness about a car driving off a cliff in Marpi. He said the vehicle, a black Toyota Tacoma, was found inside a heavily vegetated area just below the cliff-line.

DPS has yet to provide information on the gender of the victim, whether there was a fatality, if there were any other victims, or what caused the incident.

Pangelinan said that investigation remains ongoing and DPS is working on notifying the next of kin.

The DFEMS statement said it received a 911 call at 4:35pm reporting a vehicle had been seen driving off of Suicide Cliff.

Engine-2 and Medic-2 from the Garapan Fire Station and Rescue-1 from the Susupe Fire Station were immediately dispatched to the location, with the first unit arriving on scene at 4:53pm.

“DFEMS and DPS first responders hiked toward the base of the cliff where they found a black Toyota Tacoma that had been engulfed in flames. DFEMS personnel were able to recover the deceased. The case is under investigation by [DPS],” the DFEMS statement added.

At the scene, Saipan Tribune saw around 10 DPS vehicles and a couple of DFEMS vehicles at the foot of the cliff and observed dozens of police officers and DFEMS officers searching the jungle below the cliff.

Saipan Tribune also heard police officers requesting body bags but, according to Pangelinan, it is part of police protocol to bring in body bags to similar situations because ambulances do not usually carry any.

A video clip later sent to Saipan Tribune showed smoke rising from within the jungle at the base of the cliff, with DFEMS officers searching for the source of the smoke.

Back in 2019, a woman reportedly drove off Banzai Cliff and plunged deep into the ocean below. DPS and DFEMS were unable to find a body but found the car, an SUV, beneath the waters. The incident was the second case of a vehicle driving off Banzai Cliff in two years.

Back in 2017, a local Chinese female by the name Jilian He, 22, sat by the edge of Banzai Cliff in Marpi, got into her rented car, then drove off the cliff.

Police managed to find her body and she was pronounced dead.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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