Woman Pulled From Sinking Car After Crash Off I-5 Died in Hospital, ME Says

The car landed upside down in the river with at least one person inside. Sidnie Waller was completely submerged in water, and trapped inside the vehicle, when rescue crews arrived

Rescue after crash off of I-5
San Diego Fire-Rescue Department

A 21-year-old woman died in the hospital after suffering catastrophic injuries in a crash that left a vehicle sinking in the Tecolote Creek underneath Interstate 5 last week, the Medical Examiner's Office said Friday.

Sidnie Waller, 21 of San Martin, California, was a passenger in a vehicle that veered off of I-5 and landed upside down in the creek near Sea World Drive on March 4. She was completely submerged when medics arrived and pulled her from the crashed vehicle, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

Medics gave CPR to Waller until she was able to be transported to the hospital but due to the severity of her injuries, she died three days later on March 7 at UC San Diego Medical Center.

The Medical Examiner said Waller died from loss of blood flow to her brain caused by cardiac arrest due to drowning. A blunt force injury to her head was listed as a contributing factor.

A GoFundMe page created by loved ones to support Waller's family said that Waller "fought long and hard to beat this battle, but due to the severity of the injuries inflicted upon her as a result of the accident, she wasn’t able to keep fighting."

According to the SDFD, Rescue crews were called to crash site at about 9 p.m. Thursday after two cars crashed, sending one off the freeway and into the water. According to the ME's report, there was no second vehicle and the car Waller was in was speeding when it veered off of the offramp at Sea World Drive.

NBC 7 reached out to California Highway Patrol, the lead agency on the case, to learn more about what led to the crash but CHP has not yet provided more information.

Nothing was reported about the driver in the crash, whether drugs or alcohol were considered factors, or if anyone is facing charges for the incident.

The effort to pull Waller from the sinking vehicle was a challenging one for first responders. One team member jumped into the river to pull her out, SDFD said. Then, the team worked to carefully carry her on a back board up the embankment. CPR was given until she could be transported to the hospital.

Rescue crews were unsure if any others were still in the water. So, San Diego County's technical rescue team arrived to search the water using an infrared camera and a helicopter. For hours, the team looked for any others but by 11 p.m., after no one else had been located, the search was called off.

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