A silver Nissan sedan veered off the road in Clinton on Whidbey Island. The car hit several trees and continued about 100 feet off the road before finally coming to a stop.
The driver, 47-year-old Corey Simmons, was unconscious. In the back seat were his 4-year-old twin daughters.
Washington State Patrol trooper Heather Axtman said the girls were buckled in booster seats in the back of the car.
“After the crash they checked on dad, knowing dad needed help immediately, they crawled out of a back broken window of that car, and crawled up to the roadway,” Axtman said.
The crash happened in the 5700 block of Bob Garbreath Road on the evening of Dec. 6. Axtman said the girls crawled up an area that had about 20 feet of steep embankment, through woods and thick underbrush.
Cathie Walden was on her way home after work and saw the girls on the side of road in the dark.
“Right as I was coming up to them, I caught them on the side in my headlights. There’s no street lights anywhere and it’s a part of the island where you see pedestrians walking, certainly not small children,” Walden said.
“I turned around and went back, and when I got to them I stopped and they came right across the road to my car,” she said.
Thursday, about a week after the crash, Island County released the 911 call to KIRO 7 after a public disclosure request.
“My daddy, daddy,” you can hear the girls say in the 911 call.
“There’s help coming, OK?” you hear Walden saying to the girls.
“They were very young and very scared,” Walden said. “They told me their daddy had a lot of blood on his head,” she said.
“I’ve picked up two small little girls that said their father went off the road somewhere along here and is bleeding,” Walden said in the call.
Walden said she couldn’t see the crash scene from the road and got out of her car to look.
“He’s way the hell down there,” she said in the 911 call.
“So it’s down in a ditch?” the dispatcher said.
“It’s down in a ditch,” Walden said.
Shortly after, Walden tries to call out to the victim.
“Can you hear me sir?” she shouted.
But he didn’t respond.
Washington State Patrol said Simmons died on scene. Axtman said something caused him to drive off the road around 6 p.m., but they didn’t know yet what caused the crash.
Nearly a week after the crash you could still see where the car veered off, leaving a path of broken branches and a piece of bumper in the bushes.
“They’re tiny, those little girls, those twins to climb up that bank by themselves, and they had the wherewithal to get themselves out of the car seats to get up the bank,” Walden said. “One of them lost a shoe on the way up the bank, and they had no coats on or anything,” Walden said.
A GoFundMe page for the family shared photos of the family and said Simmons and his daughters were out picking and chopping down a Christmas tree just a week before the crash.
Heartbreaking. We got the 911 call & talked w/ the woman who helped out these 4 y/o twin girls today.— Deedee Sun (@DeedeeKIRO7) December 13, 2019
Their dad, Corey Simmons, crashed and died while they were in the car. They got out of booster seats, crawled out a broken window, & up a steep bank to find help. #KIRO7 #6p pic.twitter.com/lnJsaZQEwt
While KIRO7 was at the scene Thursday, Loren Tonsgard, one of Simmons' coworkers stopped by. He was on his way to bring food to Simmons' family.
“He was a go-getter, always a comic, joking and laughing and brought cheer to the crew always,” Tonsgard said.
“We wanted to help as much as we could,” he said.
Walden said she’s thinking of the girls’ family this Christmas season.
“For a family to lose their father is pretty traumatic any time of the year but right at the holidays it seems to hit people a lot harder,” she said.
Investigators said Simmons was not wearing his seat belt when the crash happened.
Troopers are still looking into why he crashed in the first place and said they would leave no stone unturned to try and get some answers and closure for the family.
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