A woman was airlifted to hospital yesterday after her car careered 200ft down an embankment.
The driver, who is in her 60s, was rushed to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary with chest and rib injuries after a passer-by raised the alarm.
The drama unfolded next to the Lecht Ski School in the Cairngorms National Park, on the border between Moray and Aberdeenshire.
Last night, those working next to remote spot said it was lucky a van driver had seen the accident or the woman could have been trapped alone for hours.
Emergency services were called to the A939 Lecht Road at 12.40pm.
Five fire crews raced to the scene, and a coastguard helicopter was scrambled to transport the injured woman to hospital.
It is believed the burgundy Honda CRV had been heading west, into Moray, when it left the road.
It plunged such a distance that it was barely visible from the top of the hill, though it left a trail of debris.
The Honda tore through chunks of earth along the steep drop before coming to a stop over a small burn.
The car’s front bumper was ripped off, and mounds of mud and grass were jammed amongst its undercarriage.
One employee at the Lecht Ski School described how the drama unfolded less than a mile away.
She said: “We didn’t see it happen but there were all these emergency services and a man with a van looking down over the hill.
“It must have been him that saw it happen, which is very fortunate because nobody could see the car down there.
“She could have been trapped for hours if not for someone actually seeing the car leave the road and calling 999.
“We think it must have been easier to winch her into the helicopter than to take her the whole way back up the hill.
“Going by the distance the car travelled, it seems like her injuries could have been a lot worse.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service added: “We received a call to attend a road traffic incident in the vicinity of the A939 at 12.40pm.
“An accident and emergency crew was assisted by the coastguard helicopter, which airlifted one female patient in her 60s to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.”
A fire spokesman said crews were sent from Tomintoul, Ballater, Inverness and Elgin – along with a rope rescue appliance from Lochgelly in Fife.
A police spokesman added: “We were called to the scene by the ambulance service.
“The woman’s injuries appear to be relatively minor, mainly affecting her chest and ribs.”