MAPLE VALLEY, Wash. — A woman who spent eight days trapped in a wrecked vehicle has severe injuries, but her brain function is normal and she can move her arms and legs, her physician said Friday.
Tanya Rider, 33, was found alive but dehydrated at the bottom of a steep ravine in suburban Maple Valley on Thursday, more than a week after she failed to return home from work. After being cut out of her SUV by rescuers, she was taken to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, where she was in critical condition.
Dr. Lisa McIntyre said during a hospital news conference Friday that while Rider was doing better, she’s “not out of the woods yet.” McIntyre said Rider’s kidneys failed because of toxins from a muscle injury in the crash and dehydration. She was sedated, on a ventilator and being treated with intravenous fluids.
Rider broke her collarbone and dislocated her shoulder in the accident and has pressure sores from the days of being held by the seat belt, probably upside down, the doctor said. Her caregivers were not yet sure the extent of a leg injury but McIntyre said they were hopeful it would not have to be amputated.
She said Rider was probably alive because she was young and healthy and was wearing a seat belt.
“She’s a fighter, obviously,” said Rider’s husband, Tom. “She fought to stay alive in the car, and she’s fighting now.”
Husband critical of police
Tom Rider said he was frustrated by the red tape he had to fight to get authorities to launch a search for his wife more than a week after she disappeared.
“Any policy that restricts officers from saving a life is a wrong policy,” he said. “No one else should have to go through what she went through.”
Authorities found the Maple Valley woman after detecting the general location of her cell phone Thursday morning, then searching along Highway 169 near Renton, southeast of Seattle, the route she took home from work. They noticed some matted brush, and below it found Rider’s vehicle, smashed on its side, State Patrol spokesman Jeff Merrill said.
Tanya Rider left work at a Fred Meyer grocery store in Bellevue on Sept. 19 but never made it home. Tom Rider said that when he couldn’t reach her, he called Bellevue police to report her missing.
Bellevue police took the report right away, but when they found video of Tanya Rider getting into her car after work, they told her husband the case was out of their jurisdiction and he should notify King County, he said. Tom Rider said he tried that, but “the first operator I talked to on the first day I tried to report it flat denied to start a missing persons report because she didn’t meet the criteria,” he said.
“I basically hounded them until they started a case and then, of course, I was the first focal point, so I tried to get myself out of the way as quickly as possible. I let them search the house. I told them they didn’t have to have a warrant for anything, just ask,” he said.
Husband asked to take polygraph test
Thursday morning, detectives asked him to come in to sign for a search of phone records. They also asked him to take a polygraph test.
“By the time he was done explaining the polygraph test to me, the detective burst into the room with a cell phone map that had a circle on it,” he said.
His wife’s car tumbled about 20 feet down a ravine and lay buried below brush and blackberry bushes. The air bags deployed, but she was injured and trapped. Rescuers had to cut the roof off to get her out.
“I know there were delays (in finding her) because of red tape,” Tom Rider said.
Tom Rider said he also drove the route where his wife was found but didn’t see any sign of a crash. He also offered a $25,000 reward for any information leading to her safe return.
Authorities said they followed procedure in the case.
“It’s not that we didn’t take him seriously,” Deputy Rodney C. Chinnick said. “We don’t take every missing person report on adults. ... If we did, we’d be doing nothing but going after missing person reports.”
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