The good Samaritan who risked electrocution to save a baby in northeast Portland after a power line fell on top of a car and killed three people said she didn’t think twice about jumping in to help.
“I wasn’t thinking, like, ‘Oh, I could be electrocuted,’ I was more so thinking, ‘I have to grab this baby,’” said Majiah Washington, 18, who recounted her heroic actions at a news conference on Thursday.
The incident happened Wednesday morning when a branch hit the top of a vehicle, taking a power line down with it, CNN previously reported.
The three people who died had gotten out of the car, slipped when walking away and slid until they encountered the live and active wire, resulting in their deaths, Portland Fire and Rescue spokesperson Rick Graves said on Thursday.
Back-to-back ice storms have recently slammed Oregon, knocking down trees and power lines in the state since Saturday. At least 11 winter storm-related deaths have been reported in Oregon since January 11.
Washington said she remembered being in bed Wednesday morning and seeing a flash outside through her closed curtains.
“At first, I wasn’t really too sure what it was, so I kind of opened the blinds and then … I realized it was the electricity pole,” Washington said. “I was standing there and it made another, like, loud pop.”
Washington, who works at a daycare, said she looked down from her window and saw a power line had fallen on a vehicle.
She said she went outside and saw the baby’s father attempting to put the baby into the vehicle.
“He swaddled the baby in his arms, he was walking up the driveway and he slipped, he fell backwards and the bottom of his foot had touched the line,” Washington said. “It caught a little fire, and it was smoking and then that was it. Nothing after that.”
A woman rushing to check on the baby also slipped, fell and touched the line in a similar manner, according to Washington.
While Washington was on the phone with a 911 operator, she said a teenager ran past her to assist, but slipped, fell forward and touched the fallen, yet still active, power line.
“At that point, I didn’t know what to think, it felt like it just happened so fast,” she recounted.
None of her neighbors who had fallen were moving, and she was concerned about the baby, Washington said.
“I knew I had to do something because the baby started moving,” she said. “He was moving his head, and that’s how I knew he was still there.”
The operator warned her that the situation could be dangerous, but she continued to run to the baby’s rescue.
The child was still tucked into his father’s arms and she was able to get close enough to grab him without getting injured.
“I have little brothers, I would hope somebody would do the same thing,” said Washington, who reflected on the deadly incident as “unbelievable” and “hard to grasp.”
Graves, from the city’s fire and rescue department, honored her heroism at Thursday’s news conference, calling her selfless.
“We do have, fortunately with us, a toddler that is going to be able to thrive and do what they possibly can as they move forward, and they’re here in part because of the heroic acts of a member of our community,” he said.
The causes of death for the three individuals are still pending.
CNN’s Kaylene Chassie, Mary Gilbert, Elizabeth Wolfe and Robert Shackelford contributed to this report.
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