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Fishermen find sisters after crash that killed mom

Posted at 12:43 PM, Feb 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-22 12:43:30-05

NASELLE, Wash. (KPTV) -- A 4-year-old girl is being credited with saving her younger sister's life after a wreck that killed their mother Wednesday.

The children were left stranded on the side of a highway for hours until two passing fisherman happened to spot something in the trees along the road.

Pictures from Washington State Patrol show the crash, which was barely visible from the road.

However, the two fisherman stopped on a lark to investigate some missing bark on a tree.

That's when Kraai McClure discovered the car wreck with Jessica Rath's body inside. Then, he found 4-year-old Arianna Rath and 2-year-old Lylah Huff were discovered nearby, hunkered down in some brush.

"She saved her sister," Kraai 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 little girls."

Bert Haven with the Naselle Volunteer Fire Department was among the first responders.

"The 4-year old was telling us the story she had said that she actually got the 2-year-old out of the car," Haven said. "So as far as we know the 4-year-old got the 2-year-old out of the car and had a blanket of something that she covered them both."

Medics took both girls for treatment, first to Astoria and then they were airlifted to Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland.

"Well we could tell the 2-year-old was... Let's say sick and needed to be out of there right away," Haven said.

The Washington State Patrol said the family was on the way to Portland to pick up Jessica's husband, Keaton Huff, who is a fisherman.

Huff had pleaded for help on Facebook only to have his worst fears confirmed.

"It looked like a straight line to the wreck, hit the tree, didn't look like she may have swerved or anything like that," Haven said.

Washington State Patrol said Rath likely fell asleep behind the wheel -- possibly around midnight -- some eight hours before her daughters were discovered and rescued.