Paraplegic Councilman Survives Rollover Crash

The city official was driving a specially tailored truck that he controls from the steering wheel when he plunged 30 feet

By Jacob Rascon
|  Thursday, Dec 12, 2013  |  Updated 10:11 AM EDT
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A Rialto city councilman paralyzed from the waist down survives a bizarre crash down a 30-foot embankment that knocked him unconscious for 11 hours in the cold. Gadi Schwartz reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Dec. 11, 2013.

A Rialto city councilman paralyzed from the waist down survives a bizarre crash down a 30-foot embankment that knocked him unconscious for 11 hours in the cold. Gadi Schwartz reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Dec. 11, 2013.

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Paralyzed SoCal Councilman Survives Bizarre Accident

A Rialto city councilman is in the hospital Wednesday after driving his car off a 30-foot embankment and regaining consciousness 11 hours later. The former police officer was paralyzed from the waist down in a previous incident. Jacob Rascon reports from Rialto for the NBC4 News the 5 p.m. on Dec. 11, 2013.
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A Southern California city councilman who is paralyzed from the waist down survived a bizarre crash down a 30-foot embankment that left him unconscious for 11 hours with barely any access to emergency help.

Rialto Councilman Shawn O’Connell was driving to a friend’s home in the high desert to get some adjustments done on his wheelchair when he careened his specially tailored car off a 30-foot embankment off the 15 Freeway in Devore, police told NBC4.

The 2 a.m. crash knocked O’Connell unconscious for 11 hours in the cold. When former police sergeant awoke, he did not have any cellphone service so he drove his smashed vehicle over a fence and into a field of brush until his car became stuck in mud (pictured below).

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With just 3 percent battery left on his phone, O’Connell called 911 and was rescued Wednesday.

The city leader was taken to the hospital with internal injuries, including a bruised lung and a cracked vertebra. He remained hospitalized Wednesday.

O’Connell was elected to the Rialto City Council last year after an accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down forced him to retire from the city’s police force.

He drives a car totally controlled from the steering wheel. The California Highway Patrol is investigating what caused the crash.

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