Pickup slides, flips down Washington cliff; woman rescued

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Rescuers said it was a miracle she survived

KALAMA, Wash. (KOIN) — A woman was rescued after her pickup truck went off a cliff and into the river near Kalama, Washington, Thursday morning.

The woman told Cowlitz County Fire crews she turned off her 4-wheel drive near the bottom of the hill because conditions looked better, Chief Vic Leatzow told Nexstar’s KOIN.

But when she came around the corner, she lost control and slid straight off the cliff. Her pickup flipped as it fell about 60 to 70 feet down the embankment. The bottom of her truck was in the Kalama River.

“She went between two trees and hit the cedar tree and actually broke the cedar tree,” Leatzow said. “When it came down into that rock chute, it wedged her vehicle between the cedar tree and the side of the rock chute.”

Rescuers said the woman, who has not been publicly identified, was able to get out of the truck on her own and climb a few feet up to a small ledge.

Another man on his way to work told KOIN he noticed tire tracks going off the road. He said he pulled over and though he couldn’t see anything he heard the woman yelling. He told her he would get help, but he had to drive back up the hill to get cell service to call 911.

“If it hadn’t been for that, she might still be out there,” Leatzow said.

It took about two and a half hours for the technical rescue team to accomplish their task. They used ropes to climb down and pull the woman up the cliff.

Cowlitz County Fire District 5 special operations in a rope rescue of a driver who went over a cliff into the Kalama River, December 30, 2021 (KOIN)

Firefighters said she was cold, but otherwise OK, and was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation.

Rescuers said it’s a miracle how this incident turned out.

“She needs to go buy some lottery tickets because to walk away from it, with what appeared to be no injuries, yeah, she’s very lucky,” Leatzow said. “Out of a 1000-yard area on that corner of the river that is the only – the only – spot that’s not 40-60 feet straight up and down rock wall.”

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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