By Matt Fountain
The Tribune

A Morro Bay couple was only looking for a fishing spot on a remote Big Sur beach when they happened upon an injured and missing Oregon woman who had driven off a cliff and crashed some 200 feet below a week earlier.

Now, Chad and Chelsea Moore are being honored by the state for their role in the woman’s rescue.

The Moores are two of just three California citizens who will receive a California Emergency Medical Services Award that recognizes “exceptional acts and service by individuals working or volunteering in California’s emergency medical system.”

The award was presented at a luncheon ceremony following the regular meeting of the Commission on Emergency Medical Services on Wednesday in San Francisco.

“It totally took us by surprise,” Chelsea Moore said Thursday night.

In July, Portland resident Angela Hernandez had been driving from Oregon to Southern California in her 2011 Jeep Patriot when she mysteriously disappeared.

The Moores were camping in Big Sur and hiked down a private bluff to a remote beach when they came across Hernandez’s empty Jeep. After gathering a few items to take back to authorities, they found Hernandez, who was injured but stable, The Tribune reported at the time.

Chad Moore stayed with Hernandez on the beach while Chelsea Moore ran back to the campground and called 911.

Multiple agencies responded to the remote location and brought Hernandez back up to the roadway. She was transported by helicopter to Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton.

Hernandez, 23, told authorities she had swerved to avoid hitting a small animal while driving south on a winding stretch of Highway 1 on the morning of July 6 and lost control of her vehicle. She plunged about 200 feet off a cliff north of Nacimiento-Ferguson Road at the south end of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Hernandez could not immediately be reached for this article.

Though this year’s award recipients were announced Oct. 26, Chelsea Moore said Thursday that the couple didn’t learn of it until nearly two weeks later because they had avoided listening to voicemails from strange numbers due to the flurry of political advertisements and robo calls leading up the midterm election.

She said the couple is honored to be recognized, but they also want to recognize the first responders that day in Big Sur, included members of the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade, who responded to the Moores’ calls for help.

“We’re super thankful for them and everything they do,” Chelsea Moore said. “It was the first time for us, for sure, to see a Jeep that had gone over a cliff, but it was not the first time they’ve seen a vehicle go over a cliff.”

Chelsea Moore said she and her husband have touched base with Hernandez on social media since July to let her know they want to keep in touch, but they also want to give Hernandez her space as she recovers from the life-changing event, she said.

Chelsea Moore added that the couple will attend the ceremony in San Francisco next week.

The annual California EMS awards “laud noteworthy or extraordinary acts, and outstanding service while working as EMS certified or licensed personnel, administrators, educators, volunteers or civilians within the EMS system,” according to a news release from the agency.

“These men and women epitomize the spirit of caring and commitment to quality healthcare that embodies these awards,” Howard Backer, Emergency Medical Services Authority director, wrote in a statement.

Copyright 2018 The Tribune