An elderly woman who somehow survived underwater for thirty minutes in the chilly Wilson River east of Tillamook has finally succumbed to her injuries. Helga Garling, 70, of Tillamook died at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center over the weekend.
Oregon State Police reported on the day of the accident, April 17th, that Garling and her husband James Garling, age 72, were headed west on Highway 6, six miles east of Tillamook along the Wilson River. Suddenly their car left the pavement, went down a steep embankment and plunged into the Wilson River, upside down. Troopers say Garling managed to get out and was helped to the bank to safety, but his wife remained stuck in the vehicle. He told his rescuers he fell asleep at the wheel.
It took first responders up to a half hour to get there and be able to retrieve Helga from the chilly waters. Since it is well established that losing consciousness in very cold waters temporarily shuts down human body functions to such a low level that survival is possible for short periods of time, crews quickly pulled the woman out of the sunken car and up to the bank. After working on her all the way to Tillamook General Hospital she was eventually transported to Legancy Emanuel via medical helicopter where she managed to survive for nearly two weeks. But she succumbed Sunday.