Woman who plunged down ravine in car found after police hack Find My iPhone app

The woman survived the crash in California but was missing for 17 hours

Lizzie Dearden
Thursday 16 October 2014 18:40 BST
You can sign iPads and iPhones up to Find My iPhone and then erase them remotely if you fear they've been taken hostage.
You can sign iPads and iPhones up to Find My iPhone and then erase them remotely if you fear they've been taken hostage.

A woman who crashed into a ravine in California has been rescued after police hacked into her Find My iPhone app to track her down.

Melissa Vasquez, 28, was missing for more than 17 hours on Monday as officers searched for her car after getting a report it had rolled off the road.

Her Chevrolet’s OnStar security system sent an alert to police but it could not pinpoint her location and the phone company could only narrow it down to a seven-mile radius.

Campbell Police searched the rough area of the accident around Mount Hamilton, near San Jose, for hours but could find no trace of the car or Miss Vasquez.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, a police officer, Dave Cameron, met with her step-mother at their home and was given her iPad, which was locked.

Melissa Vasquez being airlifted to safety

“Amazingly, Officer Cameron was able to guess the correct password after only three or four tries using his knowledge of commonly used password combinations,” a Campbell Police spokesperson said.

“After logging in, the Find my iPhone application was also locked, however, Officer Cameron used the same password to login in.”

The application, like Android Device Manager, uses a combination of phone masts, satellites and wi-fi to broadcast where it is.

It allowed him to access a map of the phone’s location, off Mount Hamilton Road, that he sent to other police forces.

Search teams used screenshots of the map to find Miss Vasquez and her car less than 20 minutes later, 500 ft down the side of the mountain.

She crashed of Mount Hamilton Road near San Jose

She was injured but alive and was airlifted by a Coast Guard helicopter to the Regional Medical Centre in San Jose, where she is in a stable condition.

A spokesperson for OnStar said it was looking into why the GPS location was not sent to emergency services by its software.

He said: “We are saddened by this incident involving one of our subscribers. Our subscribers' safety and security is OnStar's utmost concern.

“We are currently conducting a complete investigation.”

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