TORTILLA FLAT, Ariz. -
A University of Oklahoma student from China who was killed after his car went off an Arizona highway and tumbled down a 200-foot cliff has been identified.
Catherine Bishop, a university spokeswoman, said Thursday that 22-year-old Dian Zou was a graduate student studying microbiology. Zou enrolled at the university last fall and was scheduled to take on more coursework this spring.
Both men in the car said they were star gazing when the accident happened.
The two victims are Chinese Nationals. According to Bishop, a male passenger who survived the crash was not affiliated with the school.
The accident happened along Highway 88 in an area called Tortilla Flat that is close to Canyon Lake.
“It’s about 200 feet down, it’s a light decline a few hundred feet off the roadway but then it’s a straight cliff about 150 feet down,” said Department of Public Safety Officer Michael Hunt.
Officer Hunt was the first to climb down the steep ravine to locate the wreckage and talk with a passenger who was yelling that he was hurt.
“He was yelling up to us that he was hurt, he couldn’t stop the bleeding; he was cold; I was concerned about getting down to him as soon as I could get him a blanket and take care of his wounds,” said Officer Hunt.
Apache Junction, Mesa, and Rural Metro Fire Department’s responded to the accident. The terrain was so rough that it took crews hours to reach the wreckage.
By the time they arrived the 22 year-old passenger of the car was out and walking around. Paramedics rescued him from the wreck, and he was transported by helicopter to Scottsdale Memorial Hospital Osborn.
“All parties here are from out of state, they’re all visiting a friend here on spring break. They decided to come out here knowing they could get a good view of the stars, and take in the natural scenery,” said Colin Williams with Rural/Metro Fire.
Authorities say both victims were wearing seat belts. Friends in a car behind them called emergency crews for help.
Rescue crews were shocked that anyone survived the accident as they only saw the BMW’s headlights when they arrived.
“It’s absolutely demolished… it doesn’t look like a vehicle at all,” said Williams.
The passenger who was rescued told first responders that he isn’t sure why the driver lost control of the vehicle.
DPS is investigating the crash.
Authorities say the narrow highway can be treacherous to drive.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.