Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian A man died May 10 when the SUV he was driving shot off of West Cliff Drive on the west side of Santa Cruz while trying to evade police.

A Santa Cruz man died May 10 when the SUV he was driving plunged over a cliff and crashed onto the rocky shoreline on the west side of Santa Cruz County after he briefly fled from police.

California Highway Patrol officer Israel Murillo said the incident began at 8:42pm when a California State Park Officer tried to stop a white 1996 GMC Yukon at Natural Bridges State Beach for an expired registration. 

The officer then saw the SUV backing up and nearly striking a crowd of people. 

The driver failed to yield to the patrol vehicle’s lights and sirens, initiating a pursuit. 

About four minutes later, the SUV barreled down Almar Street, onto West Cliff Drive east of De La Costa Avenue, and for unknown reasons veered off the roadway, shot over a steep cliff and landed on the rocky shoreline. 

The 48-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene. 

The crash is still under investigation.

It is unknown whether alcohol or drugs played a role in the crash. 

Scores of onlookers visited the site Saturday during daylight, inspecting the scene where black skid marks, a damaged curb and sidewalk, a smashed wood fence and crushed bed of ice plant marked the path of the GMC before it went airborne over the 60-foot cliff.

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