Crash survivor: “I watched them drop off the cliff.”
SPOKANE, Wash. — Early Wednesday morning just north of Cusick, Washington the road leading to a favorite hangout spot turned into the scene of a horrific crash that killed three people, left one in critical condition, and one thinking of his young children as he fought to get help.
Gibraltor Rock is a 2,779 foot mountain four miles north of Cusick that gives people a spectacular view of the Pend Oreille valley and the stars.
“We just go up there to hang out.” Said Anthony Shirahama. “It’s a great place. If you live in our area then you know that’s just what you do.”
Shirahama, his wife and three others had driven to the top of the mountain Tuesday evening. Everything was fine until they decided to head for home at about 2:00a.m., down the old logging road. It was dark.
“We were trying a three point turn,” said Shirahama. “Being it was dark we just misjudged.”
Shirahama says the 2006 Kia Spectra was going forward when they felt the ground give way beneath the first tire and then the second.
“I looked at everyone and the look on their faces were ‘Oh my God, we’re going over the cliff,” said Shirahama.
As the car began to slide down the cliff Shirahama says he was able to jump out the passenger door.
“I slammed into a tree and dislocated my shoulder.”
Shirahama says in the darkness he could hear the car crashing down the mountainside. When the sounds of the crash had disappeared into the night, he could hear the driver and only other survivor, Aaron Pierre, screaming for help.
Shirahama’s wife, Kayleen Sherwood was in the car. He knew he couldn’t get down to help and his only hope was to get back to the road.
“I found a deer trail and was able to get back to the road,” said Shirahma. “I was thinking about my kids and thinking ‘I don’t want to die.'”
Shirahama says he walked down the road hoping for the sun to rise and to find help. Hours later help arrived in the form of a person driving on Ce Ce Ah road.
“He was a little suspicious at first but then I showed him that my arm was just dangling there.”
Help soon arrived and Shirahama was taken to the hospital in Newport, not knowing the fate of his friends and family.
“Richard was the best man in my wedding,” said Shirahama. Richard Torosian, 29, was killed along with O’Shan Nick, 29.
32 year old Kayleen Sherwood was also killed in the accident. She was Shirahama’s wife.
“We were just so in love you know. When we got married we just went over to the Hitching Post in Coeur d’Alene. Richard was there, he was my best man,” said Shirahma. “I can’t believe they’re all gone.”
The couple had five children together.
“They were my inspiration to get help.”
The Washington State Patrol investigated the crash and ruled that the driver, Aaron Pierre, was under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.
That is something Shirahama disputes.
Shirahama says WSP investigators never talked with him about what happened and feels the mention of drugs or alcohol puts his friends and family in a bad light.
“We were sober and that’s what crushed me,” said Shirahama. “I was aware through the whole thing. Everyone was so aware. Can you imagine staring death in the face? They all had life and I watched them dropped of the cliff.”
Washington State Patrol says the accident remains under investigation.
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