A lone tree likely saved the life of a van driver after the vehicle plunged over a tall cliff in Hannibal — but failed to fall to the ground several hundred feet below after slamming into the tree.

The Hannibal Courier-Post reports that the incident happened Sunday. Witnesses say the van pulled into a grassy area atop what's known as Lover's Leap, a popular tourist spot that overlooks downtown Hannibal and the Mississippi River.

Witnesses told police that the van suddenly accelerated, crashing through a fence and going over the ledge. The tree kept the van from plunging to the bottom.

The van driver is hospitalized but injury details have not been released.

Kurt Parsons