Two four-year-old girls escaped from the car crash that claimed their father’s life near Seattle, Wash., on Friday, freeing themselves from their booster seats and climbing up a steep embankment to safety, police said.
The twin girls were sitting in the back of the car with their father, Corey Simmons, 47, when the vehicle crashed off the road and landed about 61 metres (200 feet) down an embankment in the woods, authorities said. Simmons was not wearing a seatbelt and appeared to have died on impact.
The girls freed one another from their seats, climbed through a broken window and clambered up the embankment to the road above, police said.
An unidentified passerby stopped her car to help the children and call 911, police said. The two girls were taken to hospital to be treated for minor injuries.
The incident happened at approximately 6 p.m. Friday on Whidbey Island outside Seattle.
Most children would have been too scared to act in the pitch-black woods at night, but these two were not, according to Washington State Trooper Heather Axtman.
“For them to overcome those typical fears that little kids have to commandeer help is absolutely heroic,” Axtman told NBC News.
“Those are the two heroes of the day.”
Axtman said such crashes are always sad, but this one “hits deep” because it comes right before the holidays. “You have a single mom and two little girls that are without their dad,” she said.
Simmons was a father of three, according to a GoFundMe page shared on his wife Esther’s Facebook account. The campaign has raised more than US$6,500 to pay for his funeral.
The family is now hoping to get in touch with the Good Samaritan who rescued the girls at the side of the road.
“We are so incredibly thankful and we are desperately looking for who she is,” Simmons’ stepdaughter, Rebecah Crider, told KING5 News.
“We would love to personally meet her and thank her.”
The crash is still under investigation.
—With files from The Associated Press