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Spokane Valley missing woman rescued four days after crash in Central Washington

UPDATED: Wed., Nov. 24, 2021

Crews work to rescue Lynnell McFarland, 68, from a car that had gone off the road at Blewett Pass on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. McFarland had been reported missing several days prior by her family after she'd stopped responding to calls and texts following a visit to a friend in Ellensburg.   (Courtesy WSDOT)
Crews work to rescue Lynnell McFarland, 68, from a car that had gone off the road at Blewett Pass on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. McFarland had been reported missing several days prior by her family after she'd stopped responding to calls and texts following a visit to a friend in Ellensburg.  (Courtesy WSDOT)

Medical training from a long career as a nurse and a dedicated group of searchers tied together by social media saved the life of a 68-year-old Spokane Valley woman who spent nearly five days trapped in a car in Central Washington, her daughter said Wednesday.

“That’s what it took, people praying, and just communicating, and not giving up on things,” Amanda McFarland said from a hospital in Wenatchee.

Her mother, Lynnell McFarland, was discovered at the bottom of a ravine earlier this week near Blewett Pass. She’d been missing since Nov. 18, when she left a friend’s home in Ellensburg and never returned home to Spokane Valley.

McFarland’s Mitsubishi compact car was totaled after it left the roadway and came to rest, upside-down, in the snow at the bottom of a 40-foot embankment. It wasn’t discovered until Monday, when an alert crew of Washington Department of Transportation workers spied the black vehicle with the assistance of McFarland’s cellphone.

Amanda McFarland said her mother, who is a nurse, used what was in the car to help brave the elements and treat multiple compound fractures of her right arm, wrist, hand and index finger.

“She purposely shivered to keep her body temperature up,” Amanda McFarland said. “She made her body physically shiver.”

Lynnell McFarland also used clothes to help staunch bleeding and a knife inside the car to cut her seatbelt. All the while, she could hear vehicles on the nearby roadway, her daughter said, but her cries for help went unanswered.

Meanwhile, her daughter urged cousins, friends and anyone with a social media account to share images of Lynnell McFarland. A silver alert, for a missing older adult, was issued over the weekend. Amanda McFarland started driving down back roads and checking guardrails for signs of her mother, whom she believed was still alive but running out of time.

“She said, ‘I was praying the whole time, but I knew that I didn’t think I could last for one or two more days,’ ” Amanda McFarland said.

The daughter was there when authorities from multiple agencies used a sled to transport Lynnell McFarland to an ambulance. Crews had to rappel down the side of the embankment to get to the car.

Lynnell McFarland was taken to Central Washington Hospital, where her wounds are being cleaned and treated and she’s awaiting surgery. Amanda McFarland said her mother was a longtime licensed nurse, and had practiced at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

The family has established a GoFundMe to raise money for hospital bills and to replace the car.

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