MALIBU ( — In this case, the rescuers needing rescuing.

The Malibu Search and Rescue unit late Friday got a call to help save a tow truck driver who was on scene to help retrieve a motorcycle that had earlier gone over a cliff.

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According to the rescue unit, the 2 1/2 hour operation was the 75th rescue so far in 2012. The SAR (search and rescue) unit is under the aegis of the LA County Sheriff’s department.

At 9:30PM, the rescue unit arrived at the site about a mile north of Pacific Coast Highway.

They were called to the site to rescue a man who was clinging to the side of a cliff. He had gone down over the side of a cliff to retrieve a motorcycle that had been involved in an accident hours before.

In the earlier accident, a motorcycle rider had been thrown about 20-30 feet over the cliff.

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The motorcyclist was able to make it to the top of Mulholland Hwy before rescuers arrived on scene. His motorcycle, however, slid hundreds of feet down the cliff.

Two men from a tow company arrived to retrieve the motorcycle. One of the men carried a cable over the cliff towards the motorcycle. When he was about 200 feet over the side he slipped on the unstable ground and slid past the motorcycle about another 50 feet.

The tow truck driver, identified as a 36-year-old Newbury Park man, lost hold of his cable and needed to be secured in a safety harness so that the rescue unit could hoist him up the hill.

Even with floodlights, the rescue operation was considered precarious.

“It was a good thing we reached the man when we did,” said Sheriff’s Malibu Search and Rescue Team Public Information Officer, Reserve Sergeant David Katz. “While he was tired and unharmed, our first rescuer to reach him reported that the man was clinging to the side of the cliff so tightly that the rescuer had difficulty wrapping the man in the rescue harness.”

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Katz added, “With large rocks and boulders below, the man was very lucky to have not slid further or the result could have been tragic.”