A 19-year-old girl tragically died after her car spun off a highway into a creek, while her friend miraculously escaped by grabbing onto a tree for 12 hours and swimming through the creek's freezing water the next day.
East Bay Times reports that Natalie Griffin was in shock after surviving the ordeal, however is devastated by the loss of her friend. She declined an interview with East Bay Times, however her cousin Monica Keyser relayed Natalie's account of the events.
“It’s hard to rejoice in Natalie being alive when everyone is grieving the loss of Jenna,” Keyser said. “The story is surreal, I can’t imagine anyone else being as strong as her through the night. It’s definitely heroic. I’m so thankful she’s alive. She was so brave.”
After the car had landed in the creek off a Californian highway, water began to fill up fast, and the girls looked for an escape. They broke the windshield, however this just let in more water.
“She started to panic and told herself to calm down. That’s when she noticed a broken window in the back and showed Jenna. She told her to follow her,” Keyser said. “When she surfaced, she wasn’t sure if she had made it out.”
When Natalie swum out, she got swept down the stream and clung on to a partially submerged tree. She climbed up the branches and draped her jacket over her head to protect her from the elements, staying awake and stretching to keep warm.
“She said she stayed really calm. She was hallucinating and hearing Jenna talking, telling her she was going to be OK. There were points where she thought Jenna was with her. She remembers thinking they found a phone,” Keyser said.
In the morning, when the sun rose, Natalie swan through the freezing water and climbed up the hill to the highway to get help. She had lost a shoe on the way and was dripping wet so was quickly spotted and picked up by a passing driver. She called her mother immediately.
A member of the Little Lake Volunteer Fire Department Swift Water Rescue Team swam to the sunken car to confirm if her friend Jenna had made it out, and unfortunately she hadn't.
“She was beautiful, sweet and kind, very bubbly and always smiling. She was very close to her mother. We are grieving for her family,” Keyser said.
A GoFundMe page has been created to raise funds for the cost of Jenna's funeral.