The driver was bloodied and apparently dazed, witness Ken Greshowak said, but sitting in the car when rescuers arrived, the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune reported Tuesday.
Greshowak said he was leaving for work about 7 a.m. when he noticed a guardrail near his house was smashed. He saw a badly damaged vehicle at the bottom of a cliff.
"I thought somebody could be down there, so I yelled, and this guy lifts his head up out of the window," Greshowak said.
Greshowak said he called 911 and made his way down a path to the car, where he found the injured man in the passenger's seat. He put his coat around the man, who Greshowak said endured below-zero temperatures before he was found.
Rescue teams put the man on a stretcher and used ropes to pull him up the cliff, Greshowak said.
He speculated the man had been in the wrecked vehicle at least two hours, and possibly all night.