Teens hear screams near Hwy 30; driver rescued from creek


Kayla Leatherman, 22, told Oregon State Police she fell asleep at the wheel

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A young woman was stranded on the roof of her car for hours after crashing into the Scappoose North Fork Creek early Friday morning, authorities said.

The very top of the car can be seen after crashing into the Scappoose River on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. (Courtesy: Scappoose FD)

Oregon State Police said the driver — 22-year-old Kayla Leatherman — was driving westbound on Highway 30 when she reported falling asleep at the wheel. Her Honda Civic crossed the eastbound lanes, went off the side of the road and flipped, then went into the creek.

Troopers said a strong current swept the car underneath a bridge where it got stuck. The driver climbed onto the car’s roof and started yelling, hoping someone would hear her.

Help came nearly three hours later.

A couple of teenagers who had snuck out in the middle of the night were walking on the highway when they heard someone yelling. They flagged down a driver who then called 911.

Scappoose firefighters said the first responders to arrive around 4:45 a.m. quickly realized the situation was more than just a car crash. They called in water rescuers who were able to reach Leatherman and take her to safety.

Towing crews pulled the car out of the creek around 10 a.m.

A 22-year-old driver fell asleep and drove into the Scappoose Creek, where she waited about 3 hours to be rescued. The car was pulled out later in the morning, January 31, 2020 (KOIN)

OSP said Leatherman told them she had been out with friends in Portland on Thursday night and had alcoholic drinks during dinner. She said she dropped off her friends near OHSU around 1:30 a.m. but didn’t remember anything after that.

“The individual, they flipped their car; it traveled down, it flipped over a couple of times; fortunately, it landed with the wheels in the water,” said Jennifer Motherway with the Scappoose Fire District and Columbia Fire and Rescue.

Leatherman tried to swim away after her car came to rest under the bridge but the current was too strong.

“Fortunately, these juveniles were at the right place at the right time,” said Motherway. “Firefighters showed up with their inflatable device and were able to rescue her off the vehicle.”

Troopers said no signs of impairment were seen during tests. They cited Leatherman for careless driving.

Leatherman walked away with only minor scratches on her arm.

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