A 16-year-old girl lost control of her car and drove it off the Green River Road into the swollen, swift moving waters of the Green River just north of the Auburn Municipal Golf Course on Friday morning.
Two boys, ages 2 and 13, were in the car at the time and remained missing as of 1 p.m.
Auburn Police, the Valley Regional Fire Authority and rescue workers from surrounding agencies focused their search for the submerged car along the river bank and found a large metallic object at 11 a.m., 2 hours and 20 minutes after a passerby called 911.
“We found something, but we can’t confirm what it is,” said Auburn Regional Fire Authority Battalion Chief Dan Bosch. “We are working to extract it right now.”
Unsafe conditions hampered the recovery effort and the operation was temporarily suspended. Because the accident occurred in unincorporated King County, the VRFA turned the recovery over to the King County Sheriff’s office and its dive team.
The girl, reportedly the aunt of one of the boys, was taken to Auburn Regional Medical Center. Her condition is unknown.
Bosch said VRFA personnel were on the scene within minutes of the call, which came in about 8:40 a.m
“I found the driver alongside of the road, clearly distraught,” Bosch said. “I had her show me where it was at.”
Bosch said the driver told him she had been able to get out of the vehicle and swim ashore to call for help. He said she had tried to re-enter the car to get the children out, but was swept away by the current about 80 feet from where the car entered.
“We had divers immediately dispatched,” Bosch said.
“They were in the river within probably about 15 to 20 minutes, and we started a search operation. We were fighting a pretty strong current. There’s a lot of debris floating down river. There’s a lot of debris that are hampering our efforts.”
Kyle Ohashi, captain and public information officer for the Kent Fire Department, said conditions were certainly dicey.
“We suspended the recovery operation because when we put divers in the water, the conditions were just not safe,” said Ohashi. “The water is moving too fast, they’re operating too deep, and the water is too murky for them to be able to safely hook onto the car. So we pulled the divers out and tried to do it from the shore but we were unable to. We are going to coordinate with King County how best to go about recovering the car.”