Discuss as:

Hero 4-year-old pulls little sister from wreckage after car crash kills their mother

A 4-year-old child managed to get herself and her 2-year-old sister out of a car after a crash killed their mother. A passersby found the young children stranded with their mother's dead body hours later. KING's Natalie Swaby reports from Washington.

A 4-year-old girl in Washington state pulled her little sister from the wreckage of a car crash that killed their mother, then kept the two of them warm under a blanket in the chilly rain for six hours until a passing driver found them.

State troopers said that the girls probably only survived because the older sister had the wherewithal to get them out of the car and cover them. The younger girl is 2. Both were hurt, NBC affiliate KING5 in Seattle reported.

The crash happened at about 2 a.m. Wednesday in a remote part of the state near the Pacific coast. It was after 8 when a driver noticed a fresh cut in the bark of a tree along the road — an orange gash in otherwise green and gray woods.

“I just can’t imagine what the little girls were going through,” the driver, Kraai McClure, told KING5. “It could have been a really different ending, but it is, you know, a halfway happy ending.”

The mother, 26, was on her way to pick up her husband, a fisherman, along the Washington coast, The Seattle Times reported. He told her on the phone that his boat would be coming into Portland, Ore., instead, and that she and the girls should head home, KING5 reported.

The woman, identified by troopers as Jessica Rath, apparently decided to drive to Portland anyway. Troopers said she probably fell asleep at the wheel and was killed instantly when the vehicle crashed.

“We’re lucky we had someone paying attention or we may not have found them for a long time,” Trooper Russ Winger, a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol, told The Times. “Hypothermia could have set in if they were found any later.”

Both girls were taken to a hospital in Astoria, Ore., and the 2-year-old, who troopers said was seriously injured, was later flown to Portland.

A woman died in a car crash near Naselle, Wash., early Wednesday, but her two daughters survived the accident.