A man was flown to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with critical injuries after his car was discovered by a passerby 50 feet over the side of the road on northbound Highway 1 early Saturday morning near Lompoc.

At 9:01 a.m. Santa Barbara County Fire, along with American Medical Response and Lompoc Fire, responded to a report of a vehicle crash on Highway 1 south of the Constellation Road off-ramp near Vandenberg Village. Upon arrival, firefighters saw that a male passerby who was collecting litter on the side of the road had spotted a car that left the roadway and fell 50 feet over the side, according to public information officer Mike Eliason. 

The passerby went down to the side of the roadway and saw the male driver, the only occupant in the car, had extricated himself from the car but was seriously injured. 

Firefighters and paramedics went down to the vehicle and thoroughly assessed the man, who was then brought back up to the roadway and taken to Lompoc Airport, where he was flown to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital via a Cal Star 7 helicopter.

Eliason said the patient sustained critical injuries. It is unknown what time the car had left the roadway, as it was only discovered that morning by the man collecting litter on the side of the road, according to Eliason. 

The California Highway Patrol Buellton division is investigating the crash. 

Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210

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