A car that plummeted into a creek, California last week left a woman stranded in a tree for 12 hours in the icy wilderness, and another woman’s death.
The East Bay Times reported Friday that Natalie Griffin was still recovering from Wednesday’s accident that left Jenna Santos death. The two were in a car accident from a Mendocino County highway, that left Santos dead, and Griffin holding on for dear life before they swam to shore to get help.
The couple was on their way home from a visit to friends in Humboldt County, where Santos attended Humboldt State University. They were traveling on Highway 101 in the middle of a storm, when their vehicle hydroplaned and went over an embankment, flipping several times, before crashing into Outlet Creek.
The girls tried to kick the windshield, but it made it worse. Monica Keyser, Santos’ cousin, told the newspaper that the girls noticed the back window was broken. Griffin said Santos to follow her that way, but she wasn’t sure if her fellow high school classmate, followed her to the outside.
Griffin told PEOPLE Magazine that the strong currents kept her from reaching Santos.
“That was one of the scariest parts, I thought that it was a nightmare, I was so in shock that my friend in the car, dead,” she said. “I really thought that this was a bad dream.”
Griffin was borne the fast-moving creek and managed to seize in a partially under the tree, and then click the branches. They hung on the branches until the following morning. Griffin is a yoga enthusiast and was able to keep warm by doing pieces.
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The 19-year-old was able to make it up a steep hill and wave down a motorist for help. Authorities arrived on the scene around 8:19 p.m., Thursday and Griffin was admitted to the hospital with hypothermia and a couple of small scratches.
The authorities pulled the sunken 2004 Toyota Corolla from the creek. Santos never made it out.
“It is difficult to rejoice in Natalie’s life when everyone is grieving for the loss of Jenna,” Keyser said. “The story is surreal, I can’t imagine anyone else as strong as her through the night. It is certainly heroic. I am so grateful that she’s alive. She was so brave.”
The authorities were still investigating the crash.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help pay for Santos’ funeral.
Click for more from the East Bay Times.