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Hiker speaks out after being rescued from California cliff

Written by on April 3, 2024

(NEW YORK) — A hiker who was stranded on the side of a cliff in the San Francisco Bay Area is speaking out exclusively to ABC News for the first time since being rescued.

Cody Cretini said he had been on a beach walk with his girlfriend on Easter when he decided to take a shortcut up a hill.

“I decided to climb the cliff, you know, be brave, be adventurous,” Cretini said. “And so I started climbing and about 40 or 50 feet up, I get to a spot where all the rocks start crumbling and like, every rock that I grab just gets removed from the cliff.”

Cretini’s girlfriend rushed to get help as the 22-year-old became trapped, dangling more than 50 feet above the Pacific Ocean.

“When help arrived, I knew that I only had to hold on a little bit longer and that it was almost over,” Cretini said.

But the rescue mission would last for almost an hour and Cretini said he started to get tired. At one point, Cretini said he was holding on by just one hand and his feet that didn’t fully fit on a rock.

“My muscles were tired. I was cramping and I knew if I fell … it wasn’t going to be good,” Cretini said.

The helicopter teams said they feared Cretini could slip at any moment.

“My fear is he was going to let go,” Larry Matelli, a deputy sheriff and tactical flight officer for the Sonoma County Sheriff’s office, told ABC News. “And I realized as soon as he did, he was going to start sliding. So I was giving him clear instructions. ‘Do not let go. Do not let go.’ And I was able to feed the rescue device around him.”

Rescuers had to use night vision to find Cretini, who was barely visible as he hung above crashing waves.

“This one had a very technical nature to it in that the victim, you know, was ‘Spider-Manned’ onto the cliff. He didn’t have a ledge to get any pitches on,” Nigel Cooper, a pilot for the Sonoma County Sheriff’s office, told ABC News.

Cretini emerged from the harrowing experience with just a few scrapes and bruises and said he’s grateful to the rescue teams.

“The helicopter and the person who, like, grabbed me and saved me, don’t know where I’d be without them,” Cretini said. “Like, I definitely needed them there. They really helped a lot.”

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