Twin girls free selves, climb to safety after crash that killed dad

National

LANGLEY, Wash. (AP) — The mother of twin 4-year-old girls who survived a car crash that killed their dad north of Seattle says she’s astonished at what they did.

Authorities say that after the car plunged down an embankment and into thick forest and undergrowth Friday night, the girls unbuckled themselves from their booster seats, realized their dad wasn’t talking and climbed out a broken rear window.

They made it back up to the road, where they were spotted by a woman who happened to drive by.

The girls’ mother, Esther Crider, told The Seattle Times they are “independent,” but she was astonished by what they did. They were both missing their shoes when they were found, she said.

“They said they were scared and running around in the dark trying to go home,” Crider said. “A lady in a white car helped them get warm.”

The crash, on Whidbey Island, killed Corey Simmons, 47, of Langley. He was not wearing a seat belt, authorities said. It’s not clear why the car left the winding roadway, striking several trees before it stopped. Crider said Simmons made that drive almost every day.

The wreck couldn’t be seen from the road.

“It’s one of the truly saddest stories, but so heroic at the exact same time, Had those little girls not had the sense of awareness they showed, we would have a missing family,” Washington State Patrol Trooper Heather Axtman said. “They overcame every typical little kid fear. The woods, and the dark.”

Simmons was a caring dad with a “boisterous, loud voice” always ready with a joke, Crider said. He worked with concrete and asphalt as a member of Local 292, a laborers union.

Axtman said the passerby called 911.

“She knew something was tragic,” Axtman said. “The girls got in the car and said: ‘My daddy, my daddy, my daddy.’ ”

Emergency responders found Simmons dead inside the vehicle. They brought the twins to a nearby health center.

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