Four Escape Death – 200 Foot Plunge off La Jolla Cave Street

Four La Jolla's Escape Death in a 200 foot plunge off of Cave Street

Mac Meda people have always cheated death and quite frankly, some we are surprised that they have lived as long as they have.

No doubt, this post is probably one of the luckiest ones.

Back in February 1968, Richard Krug’s friend, Larry Cornellius, asked to borrow his brand new pickup. Richard hesitated, then gave him the keys.

Hours later wondering where his truck was, Larry finally came back and explained his truck was at the bottom of Cave street in one of the most unreal feats of escaping death.


La Jolla Sentinal – Feb 23, 1968:
An unidentified city lifeguard assists one of four persons up the cliff at the caves in La Jolla in the 1300 block of Coast Boulevard late Thursday night after a truck plunged in which four La Jolla youth were riding through a guard rail and fell 200 feet (yes, that is 200 FEET) into five feet of water at the base of the cliff.

This is a look from where the truck smashed through the guard rain. Over 200 feet to the ocean below

This is a look from where the truck smashed through the guard rail. Over 200 feet to the ocean below. Picture is taken at low tide, it was high tide at the time of the accident.

Driving the truck was Lawrence Robert Cornellius (17), of 5951 Wavery Ave: Passengers included Roger G Johnson (20) of 6652 Electric St; Wendy Anne Wade (17) of 5734 Abalone Pl; and Maggie Ramirel (16) of 820 Rushville St.

Police said the youths apparently had a flat tire and lost control of the vehicle. The youths had only minor cuts and bruises. A Sentinel staff writer, passing by at the time took the picture.

All four walked away after taking a 200 foot plunge off the cliff. The truck did a 360 flip and landed a perfect 4-wheels in 5 feet of water. If it had been low tide, it would have been history for the four.

Larry was quoted as saying something like, “We just looked at each other after we hit the water … asked if anyone was hurt … then rolled down the windows, got out, and swam to shore …”

Oh yes, forgot, Roger Johnson’s leg was in a cast from previous accident!

Flat Tire? I don’t think so …. a tad shit faced, more likely!

Larry Cornellius died in the early 1970s from a motorcycle accident.

Roger Johnson died in the mid 1990s by substance abuse.

As for the girls  … maybe someone can share some light.


  1. Actually, the cliff there is more like 40ft; the highest point of the cliffs (above the caves) is a bit over 100ft. More hype and BS from never-was wannabes that were born too late for the real thing.

  2. Maggie Samons says:

    well I’m still alive but I’m not sure I want to be alive.
    My son Jack Samons Shot himself with a gun.
    Live in Tucson Az.
    Maggie Ramirez(Maggie Samons)

  3. Bill Ainsworth says:

    I’ll never forget that night as fuzzy as it was. I was hanging out at Bob Harbaugh’s apartment above the cave store, just a very short distance from the accident sight. They all had been at Bob’s place right before the accident or someone came and told us about it. We all ran down to the clam and helped them up the cliff. What a mess. I’ll never forget Roger with the cast coming up the cliff. Hung out later with Larry in Sun Valley not to long before he hit that tree with his motorcycle. Those were the days at Bob’s place after he got off work from the Rexal Pharmacy. Talk about bring your work home.

  4. I am glad you posted this so the people I have told this story will now know it is true. Roger was a really good guy that let some demons into his life and take it over. He was a talented carpenter/cabinet maker and loved to surf and body whomp. Roger had lots of friends. There was a party up the street that night and there was no flat tire needed. Larry’s father and younger brother were killed in a plane crash in Alaska and Larry inherited a huge sum of money and property just before his death.
    He survived this 2oo foot drop only to die hitting his head when crashing his dirt bike soon after. There is now a cement wall there to keep something like this from happening again. Anyway that’s how I remember it.

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