Woman who spent four days trapped in her car off Blewett Pass expected to leave hospital today


The 68-year-old woman who was trapped in her car down an embankment off Blewett Pass for almost four days is expected to be released from the hospital today, her family said.

The family of Lynnell McFarland of Spokane Valley says the sound of a nearby creek kept her calm and prayer kept her motivated during her ordeal.

“She had been praying and watching a woodpecker who stayed near her during that time,” the family wrote.

A Go-Fund-Me page has been created to help offset the expenses of her recovery.

McFarland used a bag of sweaters that were in the car to keep warm in the sometimes below-freezing cold.

Her car was upside-down and her arm was broken with the bone exposed, the family said. And her right hand will need surgery

Her family had been searching for her, sometimes on foot on the pass, for five days after she disappeared following a funeral in Ellensburg.

They had posted an image on social media showing the last ping of her cellphone.

An off-duty Washington State Department of Transportation employee saw that image and thought he knew where to look for McFarland’s 2000 Mitsubishi Eclipse.

Aaron Byrd, the maintenance lead tech for Blewett Pass, then alerted snowplow crew members Koby Todd and Gunnar Lantz who were able to spot the car just north of the summit of the pass, WSDOT said.

That was about 7:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 22. She had last been seen Nov. 18 leaving Ellensburg.

After the WSDOT crew located the car Chelan County firefighters and aid workers sprang into action, using rope techniques to rescue McFarland from 40 feet down the embankment.

“Her black car was hidden from view by deep shadows and snow. She reports seeing numerous searchers and a hunter, who could not hear her,” the family wrote.

She was taken to Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee where the family said surgery on her broken arm had to be delayed because of serious dehydration.

The family said she faces months of physical therapy in her recovery.

The GoFundMe page says the expenses of the totaled vehicle, hospital care, therapy and more are adding up. “As a family we are rallying in support in unity but all of these expenses are well beyond what can be prepared for,” the family wrote. As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, the account had raised just over $5,000 of its $30,000 goal.