ASTORIA, Ore. -- An Astoria woman died in a crash near Naselle, Wash. on Wednesday afternoon. Troopers believe her two young children who survived the accident were likely alone for hours at the remote crash site until found by two fishermen passing by.
The Washington State Patrol said 26-year-old Jessica Rath was driving southbound on Highway 401 north of Astoria when the car she was driving ran off the road and hit a tree.
She had been driving to Westport, Wash., to meet her husband Keaton Huff coming off a fishing boat. The destination changed and she started driving to Portland to meet him.
When no one was at the dock, and Huff could not reach his family, he posted Facebook -- "My wife n kids are missing."
Rath died at the scene. The two girls, Arianna Huff, 4, and Lylah Huff, 2, survived the collision but spent many hours alone in the cold. Investigators believe the 4-year-old pulled the 2-year-old from the car and kept her warm with a blanket.
Many hours later, a couple of fisherman driving by stopped to look at damage to the tree hit by Rath's car and found the girls.
"They were just staring at me and I said 'babies are you okay?' And the older one started crying and said 'we're cold," Scott Beutler said." I mean, the fact she had enough sense to cover them up, she's my hero. We were just doing a deed. She saved her sister's life."
Beutler and his friend Kraai McClure drive that stretch nearly every day. They told KGW it's an uneventful drive, except for Wednesday, when they spotted the tree with a huge gash.
"We got to talking about it over the hill and we were in a place with no service," McClure said, "Got down and said we better turn around and look real quick."
What they found was the wreckage of the car.
"I saw a woman slumped in the seat and I checked vitals," Beutler said. "Didn't get any vitals."
That's when Beutler spotted an empty booster seat next to the mom and thought "oh God." He searched the car, then found the girls underneath a blanket. He covered both with his sweatshirt.
The two friends said they hope to eventually see the girls again and meet their father, once the survivors have had a chance to grieve.
"I'll probably never forget something like this, you know," McClure said. "The strength that she had and just the instinct to help her little sister it's, it's a miracle. I really think its a miracle."
More: 911 call on the crash
(KING5 news contributed to this report.)