Trooper Russ Winger
A view of what the passerby saw of the wreck on SR-401. “Most people would not have been so observant,” Trooper Russ Winger said.
NASELLE — A 26-year-old Astoria, Ore., woman died when her car crashed into a tree off a highway south of Naselle early Wednesday morning, leaving her two young children clutching together for warmth for what’s believed to be up to eight hours or more overnight, according to the Washington State Patrol.
The car ran off Highway 401 for unknown reasons and then went deep into brush and trees. State Patrol Trooper Russ Winger said photos taken from the scene show that little more then a small glinting metal object could be seen from the highway.
“Most people would never have noticed the accident,” Winger said, crediting an observant person passing by for calling 911.
The deceased woman was identified as Jessica Marie Rath and Winger said the two children in the car are believed to be her children, ages 2 and 4.
Both girls were transported to Columbia Memorial Hospital in Longview. Winger said the 2-year-old girl had to be transported to intensive care at a hospital in Portland and the 4-year-old girl was transferred elsewhere. Their names were not released and specific medical conditions weren’t known.
“It’s believed the accident may have happened some time after midnight on Wednesday and the children may have been out there for six, seven, eight hours,” Winger said. “We’re not really sure. There’s evidence than the 4-year-old bundled up her young baby sister, which may have saved her life. “
Troopers didn’t discover the car until about 8:50 a.m. Wednesday, locating the crash about eight miles south of Naselle, according to a press release from the State Patrol.
Pacific County Sheriff Scott Johnson has already notified the next of kin, calling the whole incident a tragedy as he prays for the lives of the two young children.
Johnson said the man who found the car thought it was just scrap metal and didn’t know anyone could be inside of it.
Winger said the cause of the accident is still under investigation.