A Danville woman died on Independence Day after her SUV went off Summit Road while coming down Mount Diablo and fell hundreds of feet, authorities said.
The victim was identified as Julie Watson, 72, according to the Contra Costa County Coroner's Office.
The incident unfolded around 2:45 p.m. Saturday when an SUV was seen careening down a portion of Mount Diablo. The driver apparently lost control for unknown reasons near "Devil's Elbow" while traveling down Summit Road on the southern-facing side of the mountain, according to California State Parks Ranger Cameron Morrison.
After going off Summit Road in the narrow, windy section roadway, the Mercedes SUV rolled down the rough terrain before coming to rest approximately 700 feet from the nearest point of roadway, representing a 300-foot drop in elevation, according to Morrison.
The driver -- later identified as Watson -- was ejected from the vehicle during the fall and pronounced dead at the scene by San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District personnel around 3:30 p.m., according to Morrison. She was the only occupant of the SUV.
A Contra Costa County Fire helicopter unit assisted in recovering the body from the steep, rocky terrain, Morrison said.
The cause of the solo-vehicle crash remains under investigation, and no potential major factor has been ruled out yet, according to the ranger.
The white Mercedes SUV was still visible at the crash site on Monday because it sits in a particularly hard-to-reach portion of the hillside. Morrison said it could take a couple of more days to devise an action plan to remove the vehicle from the precarious position -- with safety, cost and terrain protection among the key contributing factors.