Story from Oregon State Police
Oregon State Police (OSP) is continuing the investigation into Tuesday afternoon’s single vehicle serious injury crash in which a car with two occupants plunged off Highway 6 into the Wilson River east of Tillamook. The car’s driver was able to get out of the vehicle with the help of two witnesses, but his wife remained in the car for about 30 minutes before a team of fire personnel were able to remove her.
Updated information indicates at approximately 5:00 pm Tuesday, a 2003 Honda Accord driven by JAMES A. GARLING SR, age 70, from Tillamook, was westbound on Highway 6 near milepost 6. The driver said he may have fallen asleep as the car traveled into a ditch and struck a hillside. The car then traveled across the highway off the south side shoulder and down about a hundred foot embankment before going into the water.
The driver was able to get out of the car on his own and was helped to shore by two witnesses. They weren’t able to get to the car where his wife, HELGA GARLING, age 70, remained inside.
The vehicle was reportedly upside down with the rear axle area visible when emergency responders started arriving. Thirty Tillamook Fire District firefighters, including 26 volunteers and four staff, responded to the scene. Four firefighters, including three trained swift water rescue technicians, went into the water with an estimated current of 15 mph. Working in conjunction with fire personnel at the top of the embankment, a cable was attached to the vehicle and it was manuevered to the point that the doors were visible and accessible. The passenger was removed and brought back to the top of the embankment.
Fire personnel started CPR on the passenger as her husband was being transported to Tillamook General Hospital. HELGA GARLING was later transported by ambulance to Tillamook County General Hospital and then transferred to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center for further medical treatment. According to Legacy Emanuel, she is in critical condition Wednesday morning.