NEAR SPOKANE -- Spokane County Sheriff’s Dive Team members rescued a 60-year-old Spokane woman after she drove her sport utility vehicle off Hangman Valley Road and into Latah Creek.
Former Spokane TV anchor Debra Gilbert Wilde was driving southbound when her 2002 Jeep Cherokee left the road and went over a guardrail. She then went down a 20-foot embankment, and then another 60 yards into the creek’s rushing waters.
A passerby heard her calling for help about 1:15 p.m. Sunday and alerted the sheriff’s office. Deputy Greg Lance arrived and saw the Jeep about 25 feet from shore with water up the bottoms of its windows. It appeared the SUV had drifted downstream about 100 feet from where it entered the creek.
Latah Creek is currently swollen with recent rainwater and snow melt, and is running significantly higher than it does at other times of the year. Firefighters reached the Jeep with a line and had Wilde tie if off so the vehicle would not float farther downstream before the water rescue team arrived.
Wilde was removed from the Jeep and to safety about 2:30 p.m. She was taken by ambulance to a downtown hospital.
It did not appear she suffered any injuries in the crash, but she was hypothermic from exposure to the frigid water.
At the hospital, Deputy Lance conducted a follow-up investigation and arrested Wilde for Driving While under the Influence of Alcohol.