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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Man helps pregnant woman escape after crash into Spokane River, as record snowfall causes numerous wrecks

UPDATED: Sat., March 14, 2020

A man helped a pregnant woman escape from an SUV that was partially submerged in the Spokane River after sliding off Upriver Drive.

The incident was one of many vehicle crashes that occurred as snow and ice accumulated on area roadways Friday night and Saturday morning.

The Spokane International Airport measured 5.1 inches of snow in the 24-hour period through 11 a.m. Saturday. The airport measured 3.4 inches on Friday, a record for the day.

The Saturday morning rescue occurred after the pregnant driver’s SUV was traveling south on Freya Street and slid through the intersection with Upriver Drive. The vehicle continued over a curb and down a hillside and ended up at about a 45-degree angle, with the driver side facing down into the river, a Spokane Police Department news release said.

The driver of the vehicle, a 36-week pregnant woman, was unable to get out of the partially submerged vehicle.

Joseph Ader happened to be driving by when he saw the vehicle down the hillside.

Ader approached the vehicle, climbed atop it and noticed the windshield was damaged, the news release said. He was able to grab the windshield and pull the glass away from the vehicle, creating a large enough hole for the driver to climb out.

Once the driver was out of the vehicle, they both waited for emergency personnel, who took the driver of the vehicle to the hospital with minor injuries and for precautionary reasons related to her pregnancy.

Washington State Patrol Trooper Jeff Sevigney said compact snow and ice caused a number of crashes on Interstate 90 and state highways in the area.

He said the interstate between Spokane and Ritzville was an area of particular concern.

I-90 at mile marker 264 was blocked for much of the late morning after two semi trucks crashed and blocked the highway. A detour was set up and crews were working to clear the scene as of 11:45 a.m.

The “good news,” Sevigney said, is that no injuries had been reported as of noon Saturday.

The 3.4 inches of snow that fell Friday at the airport broke a record for the day set in 1918, said Jennifer Simmons, National Weather Service meteorologist.

The storm also brought strong winds, particularly to North Idaho, where a gust of 49 mph was measured Friday night, Simmons said. But winds were dying down Saturday morning.

Snow should start melting on Sunday, when it is expected to reach to about 40 degrees. The warming trend will continue through the week, with temperatures going above 50 by Tuesday, according to the weather service.

But first, temperatures are expected to reach 12 degrees early Sunday morning. That would be the coldest temperature this month.

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