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The California Highway Patrol's air unit helped rescue a motorist whose vehicle plunged 150 yards down a cliff next to Monticello Road Tuesday morning.

Napa resident Karla Hernandez-Zambrano, 20, suffered major, unspecified injuries after veering off the road in her 2007 Saturn, according to a CHP news release. She was taken to Queen of the Valley Medical Center.

The crash happened at 9 a.m. on a cloudy morning on Monticello Road/Highway 121 near Wooden Valley Road. It's unclear why Hernandez-Zambrano drove off the cliff, but she was wearing her seat belt. She does not have a license, according to CHP.

A bicyclist saw the vehicle go over the cliff and summoned authorities, the CHP said in a release. Had there been no witness, the victim might have gone undiscovered under the thick forest canopy, the CHP said.

A CHP flight officer/paramedic was lowered on a hoist from a hovering helicopter to provide advanced life support to Hernandez-Zambrano, the CHP said.

After a lengthy extrication from the vehicle, the patient was flown to Queen of the Valley Medical Center where she was reported in stable condition, the CHP said.

Cal Fire/Napa County Fire Department and AMR ambulance also responded to the incident, which closed Monticello Road for three hours.

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City Editor

Kevin has been city editor since September 2010. He joined the Register in 1973 as a reporter. He covered Napa City Hall and assorted other beats over the years. Kevin has been writing his Napa Journal column on Sundays since 1989.