Portland, Oregon –
Majia Washington noticed a flash outside her home in Portland this week as a dangerous storm coated the city with ice. When they opened the blinds, they saw a red SUV with downed power lines. Her neighbor’s pregnant 21-year-old daughter was yelling at her boyfriend to move the baby away from the car.
Mr. Washington said he scrambled up the icy driveway with his child in his arms, but before he got halfway he slipped backwards and his foot touched a live wire, causing “a little bit of fire and then some smoke.” Told. Her mother, who was six months pregnant, tried to reach her hand to her baby, but her mother also slipped and was electrocuted. So did her 15-year-old brother, who came to her rescue.
While on the phone with a dispatcher, 18-year-old Washington saw the baby lying on top of her father moving its head. The 9-month-old baby was alive. Having just seen three people die of shock, she decides to try and save the boy.
At a news conference Thursday, the day after her death, she said she crouched low to avoid slipping into the wire as she approached. She said she was not shocked when she touched her father’s body while holding the baby.
“I was worried about the baby,” Washington said. “No one was with the baby.”
Rick Graves, a spokesman for Portland Fire and Rescue, praised Washington’s heroic actions but confessed he couldn’t understand why she and her baby weren’t electrocuted.
“Fortunately, we have young children, and they will be able to do as much as they can as they grow and move forward,” Graves said. “And they are here, in part, because of the heroic acts of members of our community.”
The snow, freezing rain, ice and frigid temperatures that hit the Pacific Northwest last week left at least 10 people dead from hypothermia and downed trees and utility poles in Oregon, and five people in the Seattle area from hypothermia. He is believed to have died.
Ice adds weight to trees and power lines, making them more susceptible to breaking, especially during strong winds. That seems to be the cause of electrocution. A large branch broke off the tree and fell onto a power line, which pushed the branch into the vehicle.
Washington’s neighbor, Ronald Briggs, declined to speak to The Associated Press other than to confirm that his 21-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son were killed.
But he told Portland TV station KGW that he came over to use the internet after his daughter went out. He and his wife were in their car to run some errands when they heard a thud and saw the SUV on fire.
He watched the couple fall to their deaths and told their 15-year-old son, Talon Briggs, a sophomore in high school, to stay away from them, but to no avail.
“I told him, ‘Don’t go there. Try to get away from them,’ and he slipped and hit the water and he and he died,” Briggs said. “I have six children and I lost two of them in one day.
“It just hurt,” he said. “Being a good father alone is not going to solve this problem right now.”
Johnson reported from Seattle.