[UPDATE 4:33 p.m.] After Traffic Crash Into Klamath River, Mother and Two Daughters Believed to Have Died Before They Could Be Rescued
Press release from the California Highway Patrol:
On March 5, 2017 at approximately 7:20 p.m., 30 year old Elizabeth Anne Palmer of Orleans was driving her Toyota Yaris southbound on Hwy 96, north of Orleans [near mile marker 41]. 41 year old Jose Paredes Chavez of Orleans was seated in the front passenger seat; a 4 year old and 18 month old were seated in the rear passenger area. For reasons still under investigation, Ms. Palmer lost control of her vehicle, drifted in a westerly direction off the roadway, continuing down an embankment (approximately 500′) into the Klamath River. It was dark and there was a mixture of snow and rain falling in the area.
Mr. Chavez was able to escape, climb back up to the roadway and contact a Caltrans employee. Emergency services were requested at this time.
Emergency personnel from the Orleans Volunteer Fire Department, Willow Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Happy Camp Ambulance, Humboldt COunty Sheriff’s OFfice, Trinity County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol (Willow Creek) and Hoopa Ambulance responded to the scene to provide emergency services.
Due to the extreme weather and roadway conditions, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, Trinity County Search and Rescue, CHP helicopter, and COast Guard were unable to locate the vehicle and its remaining occupants.
The disposition of Ms. Palmer and the children cannot be confirmed at this time.
Mr Chavez was transported to Mad River Community Hospital with minor to moderate injuries.
A joint effort is currently underway in an attempt to locate the missing parties. CHP Willow Creek is handling the collision investigation. Humboldt COunty Search and Rescue is handling the recovery efforts.
UPDATE 3:03 p.m.: The CHP has released a further statement:
Due to the high water flows of the Klamath River and the adverse weather conditions, the CHP has not been able to safely begin any recovery operations of the vehicle or its occupants. When the river flows and weather conditions allow for a recovery effort to locate the vehicle, the CHP will coordinate those efforts with the assistance of Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office. CHP will provide an update when a recovery effort is completed. All inquires should be directed to the CHP.
- Family’s Vehicle in River; Husband Climbs Embankment
- Slide Hampers Search for Missing Family in Crash off Hwy 96