Oregon woman, grandson thank firefighters who pulled them from c - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon woman, grandson thank firefighters who pulled them from creek

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Jeannette Wilder's van still sitting in Zollner Creek. Jeannette Wilder's van still sitting in Zollner Creek.
Wilder looks at her half submerged van. Wilder looks at her half submerged van.
Wilder and her grandson meeting with Mount Angel volunteer firefighters. Wilder and her grandson meeting with Mount Angel volunteer firefighters.
The team of rescuers meeting with Wilder and her grandson. The team of rescuers meeting with Wilder and her grandson.
MOUNT ANGEL, OR (KPTV) -

An Oregon woman and her grandson, who were pulled from the water after crashing into a creek last month, thanked the volunteer firefighters who saved their lives Wednesday.

Jeannette Wilder and her 11-year-old grandson, Bryan, crashed into the Zollner Creek off Monitor McKee Road NE between Woodburn and Mount Angel on Dec. 19.

“I don’t remember how I got down there,” Wilder told Fox 12.  “I just remember a rut and slipping on soft mud, and choking on water and it getting up to our necks and looking at him and taking off his seat belt and [I] said, ‘We’re getting out, you’re getting out of this.’”

At the time, the water was so high the entire van was submerged under several feet of water.

They managed to get to the surface and clung onto a nearby tree for dear life.

“I helped him climb up the tree,” Wilder said of her grandson.  “I just hung in the water by one of the branches until somebody came by.”

A passerby happened to see them and called 911.

Arriving firefighters knew waiting for a swift water rescue team to make it there from a larger department would take 45 minutes or longer – precious time they didn’t have.

So they made a plan of their own.

“We ran the ladder through the guardrail,” explained volunteer Mount Angel firefighter Greg Boen.

While crews held on to one end from the roadway, Boen climbed down the ladder suspended over the rushing water.

On the first pass, they couldn’t come close enough, but on the second try it worked.

“I was able to get [Bryan] hanging onto me and we worked our way up, then went right back down and got Jeannette up,” he said.

She had two black eyes from the impact of the crash, and they were both taken to the hospital with bumps and bruises.

Firefighters said they put a 14-foot pole in the creek on the day of the crash and still didn’t hit the bottom.

Wilder said the volunteer firefighters risked their own lives to save them, and she got the chance to thank them in person at the fire station Wednesday.

She also gave them a donation.

“They all deserve so much more gratitude than they get from the world.  So much more,” Wilder said.  “I will be thanking every firefighter I see on the street for a while.”

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