Girls, ages 2 and 4, survive cold night after crash kills mom - FOX Carolina 21

Girls, ages 2 and 4, survive cold night after crash kills mom

Posted: Updated: Feb 20, 2013 07:43 PM
Photo: Washington State Patrol Photo: Washington State Patrol
Photo: Washington State Patrol Photo: Washington State Patrol

A 4-year-old girl dragged her sister from the wreckage of a car crash that killed their mother and huddled up in some nearby brush until they were discovered hours later.

Washington troopers said an Astoria woman, identified as Jessica Rath, 26, was driving along the Washington coastline to pick up her fisherman husband near Long Beach Tuesday night.

At some point on the drive, she talked to her husband on the phone and learned he was actually arriving into the Port of Portland. 

She turned the car around and began driving toward Portland.

Investigators said the last phone contact between husband and wife consisted of him telling her not to worry about driving to Portland and instead just to head back home to Astoria.

Rath, police said, told him she was OK to drive to Portland.

That was around midnight. Sometime after that, troopers believe Rath fell asleep behind the wheel, traveled off SR-401 near Naselle and slammed head-on into a tree.

Rath died at the scene.

Photos from Washington State Patrol show how far the car went off the highway before crashing in thick brush.

Rath's 2-year-old daughter was severely injured in the crash. Police said the 4-year-old girl dragged her sister out of the car, along with a blanket, and hunkered down in the cold in that brush.

They remained there for hours.

Finally, around 8 a.m., a passer-by noticed the damaged trees and stopped to check out what had happened. That person discovered the crash scene, along with the injured children, and went to get help.

"That's the good part, that they were both alive," said Bert Haven, with the Naselle Volunteer Fire Department.

Haven was among the first responders to arrive at the scene.

"The 4-year-old was telling us the story, she had said that she actually got the 2-year-old out of the car," Haven said. "So, as far as we know, the 4-year-old got the 2-year-old out of the car and had a blanket that she covered them both."

The girls were taken to a hospital in Astoria and were later flown to Oregon Health & Sciences University for further treatment. Troopers said their father met the girls at the hospital.

The 2-year-old girl has been identified as Lylah Huff. OHSU confirmed she is a patient, but the family has asked for no other information to be released about her condition.

"We could tell the 2-year-old was sick and needed to be out of there right away," Haven said of the crash scene.

Arianna Rath, her 4-year-old sister, was released from the hospital by Wednesday night.

Family members declined to talk about the situation when contacted Wednesday.

Washington State Patrol continues to investigate the crash.

Copyright 2013 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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