NASELLE, Wash. — Passing motorists who stopped to investigate a damaged tree in southwest Washington found two young Oregon girls injured in a car crash that killed their mother, authorities say.
The Washington State Patrol estimates the car driven by 26-year-old Jessica Marie Rath of Astoria, Ore., hit the tree sometime early Wednesday morning.
The crashed vehicle wasn't visible from State Highway 401 south of Naselle.
The 4-year-old girl apparently pulled her more seriously injured 2-year-old sister from the car and covered both of them with a blanket, Trooper Russ Winger said. The overnight temperature was in the low 40s.
Kraai McClure and Scott Beautler were driving by the spot when they stopped to check out the gashed tree trunk, they told KING-TV. They found the woman dead and the little girls huddled in the cold and rain.
Beautler called the 4-year-old a hero.
"We were just doing a deed," he told KING. "She saved her sister's life."
The girls were taken first to an Astoria hospital, where their father met them. The 2-year-old was airlifted to a Portland hospital, Winger said.
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The mother had driven Tuesday night to the Hoquiam, Wash., area to pick up her fisherman husband but then headed south when she found out her husband's boat was headed elsewhere, the trooper said.
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Carrie Mochon WhitemanThursday, February 21, 2013 6:11:49 PMThis makes my heart sink. How beautiful love is . Their mother was was with them hugging her babies as an angel. :(
Kasandra BrackleyThursday, February 21, 2013 6:50:20 PMAmazing! She is definitely a hero!
Scott BeutlerThursday, February 21, 2013 7:46:31 PMTo have the mind set after a tragic accident like that to pull her sister from the wreck and also cover them. She saved her sisters and her own life. Most adults would have been so dazed and paniced that would have never crossed their minds. Its just awesome
Tonya SchultzFriday, February 22, 2013 9:43:02 AMThat 4 year old girl was so amazing to take car eof herself and her sister until help arrived, but I'm so thankful you and your friend found them when you did!!
Sara KenworthyFriday, February 22, 2013 10:03:43 AMGood job saving those little girls! Without you it still could have turned out differently.
Dennis MarxFriday, February 22, 2013 5:12:26 PMAbsolutely amazing!
Jeanne Howard Porter EddyFriday, February 22, 2013 8:10:50 PMYou are amazing, and an inspiration to all who read this story. Those little girls survived because of you. Thank you.
Lindsay BlickhahnSunday, February 24, 2013 10:09:26 PMI do not know you but this story is amazing, and thank you for being so aware!!! I have two little girls too, and this is so sad, but I am so glad you and your friend were paying attention.