GOLETA, Calif. - Dos Pueblos High School senior Thomas Dwelley drove off a cliff, spent 18 hours overnight near the crash site and lives to tell the tale. Dwelley's car is parked on the high school campus so other students can see what happens when you drive recklessly. Some students shook their heads in disbelief.
Others took pictures of the wreckage of a now unidentifiable car. "Yeah, that was a '95 Mustang convertible, '95 GT," said 17-year-old Dwelley. The night of November 2, he was driving down windy Gibraltar Road in Santa Barbara. "As it was getting dark, I'm told, my memory cuts out, but I'm told that I just went around a corner and took it wrong and too fast a little bit and I just went off," he said.
He landed 200 feet down the ravine and spent the night in the open. He wasn't found until the next day when his father located him by tracking his cell phone. Then he was air lifted out. Dwelley wasn't drinking or driving or even using his cell phone. "This was not any of that. This was me just being a cocky teenager and being a little bit stupid," he said.
Dwelley was driving recklessly and going too fast around the turns. "It's crazy how nothing distracted him and he still crashed. Just goes to show how dangerous driving can be sometimes," said Cris Machuca, Dos Pueblos senior. The mangled car is parked on campus where everyone can see it and that's exactly what Dwelley wants.
"I think it's actually a great idea because there's a lot of students that I feel don't take how serious it is to put yourself behind the wheel and I guess it really opens up your eyes and this is like a consequence that could happen if you're not careful," said Connie Carachure, Dos Pueblos senior.
Dwelley pokes fun at what he calls a stupid decision by wearing a t-shirt that says, "Warning: Driving over a cliff sucks." But he didn't walk away from the crash unharmed, he had to undergo surgery to relieve the swelling in his brain. He now has a scar that will be a permanent reminder to drive safe.
"I'm just hoping that people can see that cars are things that need to be taken seriously. We need to recognize that it's not a game, it's not something we can be silly about. This is a serious matter," Dwelley said.