One 19-Year-Old Dead, One Swam to Safety After Car Crash Into Outlet Creek

Press release from the California Highway Patrol:

CHP Feature FatalityOn January 12, 2017, at approximately 8:19 AM, the California Highway Patrol received a report of a traffic collision on US-101 in Mendocino County, near milepost marker 57.00, involving a vehicle which had run off the highway and was in Outlet Creek.  One of the vehicle’s occupants had made their way to the roadway and had waved down a passing motorist.  It was soon discovered the collision had occurred at approximately 7:30 PM the night before, and one additional occupant was said to be involved, and possibly still inside the vehicle.

The vehicle was almost fully submerged in the swift moving current of Outlet Creek, approximately 300 feet from the shore, and was not visible from the highway.  Little Lake Volunteer Fire Department Swift Water Rescue Team responded to the scene.  A rescue swimmer was able to make it to the vehicle and confirmed there was a second occupant, the driver of the vehicle still inside.  The driver was extricated and pronounced deceased at the scene.  Swift Water Rescue was then able to attach a tow truck cable to the submerged vehicle, and the vehicle was recovered from Outlet Creek.

The passenger, Natalie Griffith, had spent most of the night stranded on a tree in the river after climbing out of the submerged vehicle.  Upon first light, she swam to shore and climbed up the embankment to the highway where she obtained assistance from the passing motorist.  The passenger was transported by ambulance to Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits for treatment of minor injuries and exposure.

This collision remains under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.



  • So sad. How awful for the young woman who had to stay out there all night trying to survive knowing that her friend was still in the car unable to get out of the vehicle and perished. Prayers for both families!

  • So young. I’m so sorry for both of them. So, so sorry.

  • I was traveling the same route in a honda civic just hours before and most people were driving way way way too fast.There was water everywhere, we kept hydroplaining.Cars were just flying past me at fast speeds.Big pick up trucks were showing off thier big tires power washing little cars all over the place..Slow down please when its wet.

  • Where exactly is outlet Creek ?

  • Omg I came through less than 5 minutes after that I wish I had seen something and been able to help 😢it was snowing like crazy around that time and there was still water a over the road so sad

  • what a horrific night! She had strength within to make it Bless her and prayers to her friend and family’s

  • That is a bad curve. I came through there today when all of the emergency vehicles were there. Very disturbing to me! I knew it had to be bad. Prayers for the family and friends and the survivor.

  • Jenna we miss you

  • What a tragedy for this young & very determined woman & now to live life with the horrible memory of losing a friend this way. Rest In Peace. Many prayers for healing. “There but for you go I” comes to mind as it’s a road I have driven or been a passenger for 47 years & the scenario has played out in my mind many times. Cruel Mother Nature.

  • Prayers to all family and friends involved.

  • Wow, first RIP. Second, please slow down especially in inclement weather. I was on 101 in a downpour and adjusted my speed other people didn’t. Many were driving like it was a dry day. They would tailgate me, and pass me. Those same people I’d pass later because they hydroplaned into the median or roadside. It’s not worth your life to hurry in slick conditions.

  • Why did it take so long to get help? Over 12 hours?

    • Did you READ the article??? It stated she was stuck on a tree in the stream, at first light she managed to swim to shore & crawl up the emebankment to flag down a passer-by!!!!

  • Awww..Della, I am sooooo VERY SORRY… for you and your baby Jenna…Not that I have seen you for many years, my heart goes out to you and your family!!!!
    What a horrible time this is for a parent. I really am at a loss of words..,

  • Devastating accident , so very sorry for The Santos family. Natalie comes from a very strong family who has been blessed with survival skills, that most could not endure.
    She must have pulled from within, no doubt praying for her rescue.
    Can not imagine the impact that Jenna’s death must have on Natalie.
    We never know why God calls one up , to Jenna’s family way too soon.
    Prayers for both families.

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