SVENSEN, Ore. -- Just over a month ago as Astoria area fisherman Keaton Huff was on his way back to shore, his family entered a life and death struggle. His wife Jessica had piled their young daughters in the back of the car and was driving to meet Keaton’s boat.
Twelve miles east of Long Beach she ran off the road and hit a tree before going down an embankment.
The crash killed Jessica and left the girls, 4-year-old Ariana and 2-year-old Lylah, alone in the woods outside the car on a cold wet night.
Eight hours later Scott Beutler and his friend Kraai McClure were driving to work on their fishing boat in Astoria. They noticed something wrong with the bark of a tree and stopped. Then they discovered the girls and called for help.
Friday, inside a noisy, happy, rummage sale in the town of Svensen, where Jessica Huff attended high school, three men whose lives are forever joined met with hugs reserved for family.
“It was awesome. It was awesome,” said Beutler after hugging Huff and Huff's father-in-law Mike Rath.
He watched, smiling, as the little girls played and explored at the rummage sale. Two-year-old Lylah had a pink cast on each leg that reached from her toes to just below her knee. But her dad said she is improving.
“She had the two broken legs and her pelvis and then she also had a collapsed lung, but I mean she recovered from most of that and recently she’s been crawling around you know? So her pelvis is getting better we’re just waiting for the casts to come off,” Keaton Huff said.
Huff has quit fishing and is raising his daughters. He plans to go to college in the fall.
He’ll never forget how strangers saved his little girls.
“It takes a lot of guts to walk down to a site like that and if he hadn’t done it, you know, so once again we just thank God for him,” he said gesturing to Beutler.
Huff and his girls have moved in with their grandfather Mike Rath. He’s grieving the loss of his daughter but celebrating the lives of his granddaughters.
They’re helping each other heal.
Their faith in God is helping the pain.
“God saved these two girls for his, for a reason. And we will go with that. And I want to see his reason come to pass,” Rath said.
Their worlds changed forever a month ago. But with the help of friends and strangers and their faith, Keaton Huff and his family is moving on.
There is a fund set up at Wells Fargo bank called the “Rath-Huff Benefit Fund". It’s being used to help pay for the care of the girls.