PORTLAND, Ore. – First responders in Portland hailed an 18-year-old woman as a hero for rescuing a 9-month-old baby after his father, mother and a teenager were electrocuted while making contact with a downed power line during an ice storm on Wednesday.
Portland Fire and Rescue officials originally reported that the three victims were inside the SUV when the power line fell and were electrocuted when they left the vehicle. But after speaking with witnesses, spokesperson Rick Graves said their initial reports were incorrect.
Instead, at the time of the tree fall, the father was loading the baby into the SUV, reported FOX 12 Oregon.
Majiah Washington, 18, said during a press conference Friday she was in a nearby home when she heard an explosion and looked out the window to see the tree branch down and the power line draped across the SUV.
As the baby's mother screamed to get the child out the car to safety, Washington said the father then pulled the baby out of the vehicle, but ended up slipping and falling as he walked up an ice-coated driveway. The bottom of his foot then touched the live wire, causing him to be electrocuted.
She added that the baby’s mother rushed over to help him and her baby, but slipped too and made contact with the wire.
"I’m on the phone with 911, and I’m explaining to them what’s going on," Washington said. "And then the teenager ran past me, and he slipped as he was on his way down there to assist with the situation and fell forward, and his foot touches the (power) line."
Amid the unfolding chaos, Washington noticed that the baby was still alive.
"The baby moved his head, and that's how I knew he was still here," she said. "So I crouched down and I kind of slid; I used my hands to break my fall and I didn’t land on top of his father but my hands landed on top of him, and I just grabbed the baby… and I walked him up the hill to hand him to someone who could check on him."
Graves praised Washington's bravery in risking her own life to save the baby.
"What a humble individual," Graves said after Washington shared her story. "Don’t we need more Majiah Washington’s out there? The scene that she was within and responded to… was very heightened — there was a lot of emotions going on and this calm individual in our community came out and made a huge difference."
None of the victims have been officially identified, though FOX 12 Oregon reported the teen victim was a sophomore at a nearby high school.