(Photo: NBC News Screen Shot)
Two fishermen found two sisters sheltering at a crash site in a rural forest area of Oregon Wednesday morning.
Kraai McClure and Scott Beutler were traveling on a road outside of Astoria, Oregon early Wednesday morning when they passed something that caught their attention; a section of bark on a tree by the roadside had been ripped off and was bare.
They reported the sighting to police, but were told no reported crashes had taken place in the area. However, they decided to search the area again and under closer inspection they found a crashed Dodge Sedan. Tragically a woman was slumped over the wheel of the vehicle in the driver's seat.
However, they noticed two car seats in the vehicle, and called out into the forest area to see if anyone would respond. Extraordinarily a 4 year old girl responded, coming out from sheltering about 20 feet away under a blanket with her 2 year old sister.
The older sister told the fishermen than her little sister's head was bleeding and that they were both cold.
It later emerged that the little sister was pulled from the car wreckage by her older sibling after the tragic car crash killed their mother. She then kept both of them warm under a blanket in the rainy, cold weather for six hours until the fishermen found them.
Authorities have praised the toddler for her bravery and quick thinking, and have said that the girls probably only survived the ordeal because the older sibling had got them clear of the car and covered them both up to keep them warm.
According to KING5, both girls suffered injuries in the car crash, which took place at about 2 a.m. on Wednesday in a remote area near the Pacific coast.
Kraai McClure, told KING5: "I just can't imagine what the little girls were going through. It could have been a really different ending, but it is, you know, a halfway happy ending."
The girls' 26 year old mother, Jessica Rath, was tragically killed in the crash, which occurred as she was driving with her two children on her way to pick up her husband, who is a fisherman working on the Washington coast.
According to NBC News, the father had told his wife that his boat had changed destination and would be docking in Portland, Ore. instead. He told her that she and the kids should forget about picking him up and head home, however, even though it was late, his wife decided to make the trip to Portland regardless, according to a KING5 report.
Authorities have suggested that Rath could have fallen asleep at the wheel and would have died instantly upon impact in the crash. However, the cause of the crash is still be investigated.
Russ Winger, a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol, told The Times: "We're lucky we had someone paying attention or we may not have found them for a long time. Hypothermia could have set in if they were found any later."
The two year old girl was said to have been seriously injured in the crash and was flown to Portland. Her older sibling, who has been described as a "hero" was treated at a hospital in Astoria, Ore.
Here is a video report into the tragic and extraordinary story: