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Washington State police report that motorists came across a horrific scene early Wednesday morning. Kraai McClure and Scott Beautler were driving by a spot on Washington State Route 401 when they stopped to check out a gashed tree trunk. They found two small children wrapped in a blanket out in the rain. The little girl asked for help with her mother, who she indicated was still in the car. McClure and Beautler said they found a dead woman in the car, which had crashed headfirst into the tree.
Washington troopers said an Astoria woman, identified as Jessica Marie (Rath) Huff, 26, was driving along the Washington coastline to pick up her fisherman husband, Keaton Huff, from a fishing vessel, believed to be the Calamari, in Long Beach, Washington. Investigators said that at some point on the drive Jessica learned that Keaton would be arriving at the Port of Portland and not in Long Beach. The last phone contact between husband and wife consisted of him telling her not to worry about picking him up and she should head back to their home in Astoria. However, she informed Keaton she was “Ok to drive to Portland.”
Police Investigators said that conversation took place around midnight. Sometime after that, troopers believe Jessica fell asleep behind the wheel, traveled off SR-401 near Naselle and slammed head-on into a tree and died at the scene.
The Huff’s 2-year-old daughter was severely injured in the crash. Police said the 4-year-old girl dragged her sister out of the car, along with a blanket, and hunkered down in nearby brush, remaining there for hours until the motorists noticed the damaged trees and stopped to check out what had happened. At around 8 AM, McClure and Beautler discovered the crash scene and the injured children and immediately went for help.
The girls were taken to Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria and were later flown to Oregon Health & Sciences University for further treatment. Troopers said their father is with the girls at the hospital.
The 2-year-old girl has been identified as Lylah Huff. Arianna Rath, her 4-year-old half-sister, was released from the hospital Wednesday night.
Washington State Patrol continues to investigate the crash.
Update, 2/21/2013, 5:56 PM: According to a friend of the family, Arianna Rath was not released from the hospital Wednesday night. Both girls remain hospitalized but their health is improving. One of the girl’s health has been upgraded and their ward has changed but it was not clear which one.