Missing woman, rescued from car, is in critical condition
Seattle Times staff reporters
A Maple Valley woman was fighting for her life Thursday night after apparently spending more than seven days trapped in a vehicle at the bottom of a steep ravine.
Tanya Rider disappeared Sept. 19 on her way home from work and wasn't heard from until about 2 p.m. Thursday, when King County sheriff's detectives traced her cellphone signal to a tower on Highway 169 near Renton. Troopers searched the road and discovered Rider's blue Honda Element 20 feet down a ravine with a barely conscious Rider trapped inside.
It took 1-½ hours for fire department crews to reach Rider through thick blackberry bushes and rescue her by cutting off the Element's roof. She was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center, where she was in critical condition Thursday night.
"She looks very pale, very dehydrated. She didn't have a lot of cuts but had difficulty breathing," State Patrol Trooper Jeff Merrill said after Rider was pulled from the wreckage.
Rider, 33, was on her way home from work at a Fred Meyer in Bellevue when she apparently drove off the highway and into the ravine.
Tom Rider, her husband, was at the Sheriff's Office taking a polygraph test when he heard the news that his wife had been found, and he joined her at the hospital. He said that his wife was suffering from kidney failure and sores from being trapped in the same position for a week but that she was conscious.
"Pretty much she's fighting for her life," he said.
Doctors are concerned that as they rehydrate her, the sores could swell and cause more injuries, he added.
Hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg-Hanson said Rider is being treated in the intensive-care unit.
"When she came in, we were warming her up and giving her lots of fluids," she said.
Back at the crash site near Southeast 196th Street, emergency crews pulled the vehicle from the ravine at about 6 p.m. The highway, which was closed shortly after 3 p.m., reopened about 6:30 p.m.
Rider's family reported her missing Sunday, and Tom Rider later offered a $25,000 reward for any information leading to his wife's return.
Initially detectives in the Sheriff's Office suspected Rider had run off or was the victim of a crime, Merrill said. After she was reported missing, detectives noticed activity on one of Rider's bank accounts and assumed she was still alive.
Later detectives discovered that the activity was from one of her husband's credit cards. When they realized Rider hadn't been using the account, they looked for her cellphone signal, Merrill said.
Detectives then traced her cellphone by linking it to a phone tower within five miles of where she was found. Investigators "did an intense ground search and located the car off the roadway," Merrill said.
"We didn't have any idea that this was a traffic accident ... we thought she was out driving around," Merrill said. "When it [her vehicle] passed through all the brush, it all closed up behind her. ... There have been thousands of people driving on that road in the last week. Nobody saw any signs there was a car down there."
State Patrol Sgt. Dave Divis said Rider responded when rescuers called her name.
"We have a lot of unanswered questions right now," Merrill said. "It's fortunate she was found. Probably had it been any longer, she might not have survived."
Brian Alexander: 206-464-2026 or email@example.com;
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