Girl who survived plummet from Sellwood Bridge improving

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by By WAYNE HAVRELLY, Kgw.com

kgw.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 3:28 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 16 at 11:05 AM

Children found in river

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The 7-year-old girl who fell from the Sellwood Bridge is in the hospital but authorities said Sunday that her condition was improving.

Portland police still haven't revealed the exact details of how she and her 4-year-old brother ended up on the bridge and then in the Willamette River around 1 a.m. Saturday.

Their mother faces an aggravated murder charge in the death of her son.

Background:

Amanda Jo Stott-Smith, 31, lived with her husband and three kids in a suburban Tualatin home for the past two years.

Neighbors said their life seemed "wonderful."

"She was always really outgoing and would talk to you.Everything seemed wonderful.She even brought me food one time.The family sure seemed to be nice people," Ray Freauf said.

People living on houseboats near the bridge recalled hearing " chilling screams" from the river's current early Saturday morning.

One Good Samaritan scrambled to a boat and rescued the kids, but 4-year-old Eldon Smith was already dead.

Gary Scott used to see the kids playing as he took his daily walk through the Tualatin neighborhood.

"This little girl floating like that for a half hour and finally being able to get someone's attention --it's absolutely mind-boggling to me that she was able to survive," he said.

Records show Stott-Smith had recently filed for divorce. Neighbors say she moved out of this Tualatin neighborhood several weeks ago.

"The last time I saw her she seemed very tired and a little frazzled, but she was always very nice," said Merle Thomas, a neighbor.

The kids used to play in front of neighborhood homes every evening, acquaintances said. Nothing seemed amiss at home.

"I don't understand. I just don't understand" Freauf said. "I mean, I went through a divorce and children are the very last thing you would hurt."

Stott-Smith's estranged husband filed a missing persons report when his children went missing Friday.

The kids may have been at their grandparent's Southeast Portland home with Stott-Smith, according to neighbors.

Lance Dunning, who lives near the grandparents, said he saw Stott-Smith there on Thursday or Friday, with some children.

Dunning added his neighbors are wonderful people and hoped people would pray for them during this unthinkable time.

A woman at the grandparents address declined comment but said they are working with police.

Records show Stott-Smith was arrested for fourth degree domestic assault in 2000. She was busted for shoplifting in Clackamas County a few days after her first arrest.

Neighbors say she was always nice to them and her kids seemed happy.

Stott-Smith's arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday.

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