SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KION-TV) A two car crash on Highway 1 turned deadly under unclear circumstances, after a body was recovered from the water.
The California Highway Patrol said a 40-year-old Santa Cruz a woman was driving a Honda Accord when she rear-ended another car just south of upper Swanton Road around 9 a.m. Monday morning.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff later confirmed the woman was Wendy Edwards.
The CHP said after the crash, both vehicles pulled over to the shoulder of Highway 1. The Edwards was reportedly last seen walking across the highway toward the cliffs where she either fell or jumped.
Cal Fire Battalion Chief Eric Bither responded to the call for a collision.
"I requested Harbor Patrol, CHP, Coast Guard and a couple of other agencies that were assisting in an auto aid. As we were responding, we were getting updated information from not only the caller, but also the command center," said Bither. "Once we got resources at the scene, that's when we had determined one of the parties either fell off or went off the cliff into the water."
The body was located by rescue swimmers who went into the water near Greyhound Rock. The body was airlifted by a Coast Guard helicopter onto land. Bither said Edwards was pronounced dead by medics on the scene.
It is still unclear whether Edwards fell off the cliff, or if she jumped. The Sheriff's Office is investigating and her identity will be released through the coroner.
Cal Fire believes Edwards was alone in her car before the crash. They have this message for those who find themselves near the cliffs of Highway 1:
"In the past couple of months, we've had quite a few drownings, so I guess the biggest thing is water awareness. We want to make sure for that part of the coastline, that people are aware of their capabilities. And also what the ocean, specifically that type of water will do, being as dynamic as it is," said Bither.
The CHP is investigating the collision while the Sheriff's Office is investigating the events afterward. The CHP said alcohol and/or drugs have not been ruled out as a contributing factor.
This story was updated Jan. 12 at 1:10 p.m. to include the name of the person recovered from Greyhound Rock.