A heady 4-year-old Oregon girl likely saved her younger sister's life early Wednesday when her mom drove off a rural road near the southwest Washington coast and crashed deep in the woods, but it was some curious locals that likely saved them both.
Kraai McClure and Scott Beautler were driving Highway 401 near Naselle early Wednesday when they noticed a tree off the road that looked like its bark had recently been stripped. It was odd enough that they stopped to check it out. That's when they saw the twisted metal of Jessica Rath's car.
"After looking at the scene," McClure said, "You'd never think that there's anybody going to make it out of there."
A few feet away, huddled under a blanket, the two men found 4-year-old Arianna Rath and 2-year-old Lylah, shivering and wet, Beautler told KING 5.
"They were just staring at me," he said. "I said 'Babies are you okay?' and the oldest one starting crying. She's my hero. We were just doing a deed. She saved her sister's life."
State Trooper Russ Winger said Arianna dragged her critically injured sister out of the car and covered her in a blanket. He credits her and the curious drivers for giving this story a somewhat happy ending.
"Only someone who's probably local notices something like that, is going to stop and check and go back in that far to find somebody," Trooper Winger said. "It's very lucky that he was there to kind of rescue these two little girls."
The 2-year-old was airlifted to a Portland hospital with critical injuries. The 4-year-old hero was treated and released.
Trooper Winger believes 26-year-old Jessica Rath was driving from her home in Astoria to pick up her fisherman husband in Westport. Her husband called her along the way and told her he was arriving in another port. He encouraged her to go home and wait to get him in the morning, but she turned around and kept driving.
He believes she fell asleep at the wheel. She was killed when the car hit a tree. Trooper Winger said if the men hadn't gone to investigate that damaged tree the girls likely would have died too. They had already been out in the cold and rain for several hours.
KIRO Radio's Chris Sullivan and Josh Kerns contributed to this report.