Winthrop woman rescued from submerged car in Methow River

86-year-old escapes injury

Dorothy J. Evans, 86, rests on the top of her car in the middle of a Methow River channel off Evans Road in Winthrop on Friday, March 23.

Okanogan County Fire District No. 6
Dorothy J. Evans, 86, rests on the top of her car in the middle of a Methow River channel off Evans Road in Winthrop on Friday, March 23.

— Had the Methow River depths been greater or her cellphone out of reach, an 86-year-old woman might not have escaped injury Friday afternoon.

Dorothy J. Evans, Winthrop, was driving to her home on Evans Road around 1:30 p.m. Friday, March 23.

She was nearly there when her car’s back tires became stuck on a snowy bluff, causing the ground to break and Evans’ car to slide into the Methow River, officials said.

It landed about midway into the channel, Twisp Police Chief Paul Budrow said Monday.

Evans called 911 from her cell phone and then crawled out of a back window and atop the floating car, said Evans’ neighbor, Betsy Cushman.

The car was likely 3.5 feet submerged in water, Cushman estimated from observing her own car. Evans remained dry from the waist up as she awaited rescue atop the car and resting on the open window ledge, Cushman said.

Cushman said she and local physician Ann Diamond were notified of the crash around the same time as dispatchers.

They scoped out the area and then “scampered back” to Diamond’s house, where they picked up her daughter’s canoe, Cushman said.

The two rowed to Evans and took her back to shore, where Aero Methow Rescue Service medics awaited with heated blankets and medical equipment, Cushman said.

Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said Evans was treated on site and then taken home by family members.

Other than being extremely cold, she escaped without injury.

“Tough lady,” Rogers said. “I give her credit.”

The time between Evans’ call and her rescue spanned about 40 minutes, Rogers estimated from the scanner chatter.

Responding agencies included the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office, Twisp Police Department, Aero Methow Rescue Service, Okanogan County Fire District No. 6, Okanogan County Search and Rescue and the Winthrop Marshal’s Office.

But the interagency – and volunteer – rescue might have resulted in another outcome had the conditions been different.

“Reflecting on the ride down the hill and into the river, everything that could have gone right did,” Cushman said.

First, Evans had her phone on hand, she said. She was also fortunate the car did not flip, and the crash didn’t occur a month later when the river levels assuredly will be higher, Cushman said.

Cushman described her neighbor as “amazing and resilient.”

“She did exactly what she needed to do,” Budrow said.

In Evans’ case, it was crucial that she remain on the car and not attempt to swim ashore past the strong current and frigid temperatures, he said.

“If she would have tried, I don’t think she would have made it on her own,” Budrow said.


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