At about 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 4, Greenville resident Susan Orange, 67, was driving her 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan eastbound on Highway 70 with her daughter Josie Barr, 42, of Taylorsville, riding in the front passenger seat.
They were just west of Storrie Road and exiting a slight left curve in the roadway when, for reasons yet to be determined, the Caravan drifted south, off the paved roadway onto the south dirt shoulder.
The right front of the van struck a milepost marker and the vehicle continued east along the shoulder. The right tires then drifted off of the shoulder and onto a steep rocky embankment.
The van tumbled to the southeast, down the embankment toward the Feather River below. The vehicle collided with at least two large rocks as it slid downward, causing the airbags to deploy.
At the bottom of the embankment, the Dodge overturned onto its roof and crashed into the river. The upside-down car became nearly completely submerged about 10 to 15 feet from shore in the cold, fast-moving water.
Barr was able to remove her seat belt and free herself from the submerged van, but was unable to reach Orange, who was still seat belted in the driver’s seat. The Caravan remained in the fast-moving water. Barr made it to the rocky shore with lacerations to her hands, neck and face.
Through the cooperation and quick action of Quincy CHP officers, a Plumas County Sheriff’s deputy and PG&E employees at the scene, a cable was attached to the van from a PG&E truck. The Dodge was flipped upright and pulled closer to shore using a winch so that Orange could be pulled from the vehicle.
Unfortunately, due to her injuries and the amount of time under water without oxygen, Orange died at the scene.
Barr was treated for moderate injuries to Enloe Medical Center in Chico.