Four Spokane-area geocachers discovered more than the usual trinkets in the Horse Heaven Hills this weekend.
Tim Turner and three friends were roaming rural roads near Benton City for their popular treasuring hunting game when they spotted a blue SUV at the bottom of a ravine.
A 52-year-old Benton City woman spent 14 hours trapped inside.
“We were out doing a hobby, doing something silly, and all of a sudden it becomes serious,” said Turner. “It’s a weird, surreal thing. It took immediate priority of our life.”
Turner is a teacher at Lakeside High School in Plummer, Idaho. He joined his Spokane friends Trevor Bland, Derek Fisher and Leland Smith on the geocaching trip to an area southwest of Benton City and Interstate 82.
The group was searching places listed by coordinates for people to find. Sites have logbooks and often prizes to exchange.
“There are 40 or 50 up there,” he said.
The group did not see the wrecked 2008 Ford Escape as they drove up McBee Road. When they were returning Turner noticed the car about 150 feet down a steep embankment.
“It kind of felt like it was abandoned,” said Turner. “We had to go look. We saw CDs all over the ground and broken glass.”
The group walked to the car and found it was hard to see inside because of the damage and the deployed airbags. Turner said they were hoping the car was empty and no one was dead inside.
“I saw a hand on a leg … Then it moved,” he said. “I was just thankful someone was alive.”
The woman was in the back seat and suffered non-life-threatening injuries to her head, neck and arm. Turner and Bland called 911.
She, whose name was not released, was flown to a Spokane hospital and was still there Tuesday receiving care for exposure, said Detective Sgt. Bob Brockman with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators don’t know why she crashed.
“She might have been run off the road. She said someone was coming the other way,” said Brockman.
As sheriff’s officials continue the investigation, they credit the geocachers with saving her life.
“This qualifies as the most unusual thing we found,” said Turner. “It was much more important than our game. We just did the right thing.”