Driver, 84, describes rescue after rolling down ravine

TROUTDALE, Ore. – An 84-year-old woman has an amazing rescue story to tell after her car plunged down a 150-foot embankment into a creek bed late Tuesday night in rural Multnomah County.

Amazingly, Alva Mae Hurst was not hurt, but hers was a difficult rescue for first responders.

The crash happened near Southeast Troutdale Road and Division Street, east of Gresham, in a heavily wooded area. When the car finally stopped rolling, Hurst said it was covered with bushes. So she reached down, picked up her cell phone and called her sister.

Her sister told her to call 911. That's what she did next, but she was lost so she could not give them a location. She thought she was near Beaverton. Turns out, she was in Troutdale.

Dispatchers had her honk her horn and flash her headlights as they used the GPS on her phone to track her down and guide rescuers to her.

"They said, 'Keep blowing your horn so they can tell where you are,'" Hurst said. "I kept on the horn and after a while, I heard someone talking."

Searchers said if Hurst had not called for help, it could have taken them a long time to find her.

"Had she not had a cell phone, I don't know how long it would have been until she was found," said Jason McGowan of the Gresham Fire Department. "There was no way to see her from the road where she went off the ravine."

Firefighters had to climb down at least 150 feet through rough and steep terrain to get to the car. They used ropes and ladders to pull Hurst to safety.

"I'm so glad to see you," Hurst told the deputy that helped rescue her. "Now let's get out of here, yeah!"

The former nurse was put on a stretcher and evaluated by emergency workers on the scene. She declined medical attention, instead opting to go home and rest.

She also charged her cell phone.

"When something happens I can call somebody - and it worked last night, it sure did," Hurst said.


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