by: PEGGY SAVAGE - Fire Chief Vince Stafford presents a Citizens Award to Michael Holliday and Rick Hendrickson.Molalla Fire awarded two Citizens Awards Thursday evening to Michael Holliday and Rick Hendrickson for their heroic efforts helping strangers who crashed their car over a 30 foot cliff and into the Molalla River.

“In this day and age, it is rare to have people stop and help those in need,” said Molalla Fire Chief Vince Stafford. “These gentlemen put their own lives at risk to help others. This is a small way to recognize the heroic efforts you made that night.”

The awards carried these words: “For his willingness to put his own life at risk to help a fellow citizen in need.”

Giovanni Demartino, a 22-year-old from Clackamas, and his passenger, 23-year-old Danie Fournier from Oregon City, had just plummeted down a rocky cliff along the side of Molalla Forest Road in a Dodge Stratus and landed upside down in the river when Holliday and Hendrickson arrived. The crash happened around midnight Sunday east of Molalla, next to a dark, tree-lined stretch of secluded roadway, and the car was quickly taking on water.

"It's definitely a dangerous place, winding roads, and it's foggy," Holliday said.

Holliday, a 31-year-old from Colton, was out hunting elk about a mile down the road that night with his friend Rick Hendrickson, a 34-year-old also from Colton. And just as Holliday began to put his dog back in his truck, two friends of Demartino and Fournier who'd been following the Stratus, pulled over to alert the hunters about the crash and ask for help.

Holliday took stock of the situation when they arrived at the scene, roughly seven miles east of the intersection of Molalla Forest Road and Dickey Prairie Road. All but the car's bumper was under water.

"I think they're saying it was a 30-foot cliff, but where they went off it was even higher," said Holliday, who estimates the cliff was more than 50 feet high. "It was an absolute miracle that they were even alive."

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