When two anglers chose to pull over to the side of a Washington highway and investigate what they described as a basketball-size hole in a thicket of trees, they couldn’t have guessed what was waiting behind the brush.
Upon investigating, they found two sisters huddled together beneath a blanket as their mother lay dead nearby, a victim of a fatal one-car accident early Wednesday. Although there was no evidence of broken glass or skid marks on State Highway 402, the fishermen -- Scott Beutler and Kraai McClure -- acted on a hunch, effectively saving the two girls from exposure.
But the anglers gave all the credit to the elder of the two girls, Aryanna Huff, who, at only age 4, had the know-how to pull her seriously injured 2-year-old sister, Lylah Huff, from the wreck.
“She saved her sister,” McClure told the Associated Press. “She was sharp enough. I don’t know how she did it or anything else, but something was watching over those two girls. It was amazing that the little 4-year-old -- I have a little 4-year-old, too, she’s almost 5 -- was able to get her little sister out and do that. ... It just blows my mind that she could do that in that situation. I don’t know if she waited until morning, when they could see, but you know, it just makes me want to cry.”
State trooper Russ Winger agreed the girls were in dire circumstances. “Hypothermia sets in very quickly with something like that,” he said. “They could have very well not been found and died of exposure.”
Investigators said the crash happened Wednesday at about 12:30 a.m. local time. The two fishermen found the girls underneath the blanket eight hours later. The Washington State Patrol said the girls' 26-year-old mother, Jessica Rath, was driving to pick up the girls’ father, Keaton Huff, who is also a fisherman, when she apparently fell asleep behind the wheel.
Before word of the discovery of his girls spread, Huff wrote on his Facebook page, “My wife and kids are missing, if anyone can help please call ... ”