BOISE COUNTY -- The Boise County Sheriff's Office says a young girl died after an SUV crashed over an embankment into the water just below Arrowrock Dam Thursday evening.
Chief Deputy Dale Rogers says they received a call at 6:52 p.m. about a child trapped in a vehicle. He says a family of five was traveling southwest on Arrow Rock Road when the driver lost control going around a corner. The vehicle went off the road and plunged about 90 feet toward the water's edge. Miraculously, the SUV stopped short of the water's edge after coming to rest on some rocks.
The mom's fiancé, Dave Persons, grabbed an 8-year-old girl and mom, Tori Miller, got an infant son out of the vehicle. Moments later the SUV dislodged from the rocks and went about another 60 feet into the water with 4-year-old Pearl Sittner still inside. Rogers says both parents tried to save the girl, but the water was too deep and dark. The car submerged in about 40 feet of backwater.
They then flagged down a car and told them what happened. That person drove to Mack's Creek campground and called 911.
Deputies arrived on scene around 7:18 p.m. Rescue attempts were in vain. The Boise Fire dive team arrived and put divers into the water. They located the SUV and the girl, who was still inside. The child was brought to the surface where CPR was administered. Efforts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful and the girl was pronounced dead.
Pearl's father Joshua Sittner spoke with KTVB on Friday afternoon. He is also the father of the 8-year-old in the crash. He says he was at work at the time of the crash and got a call from LifeFlight about Pearl. He is now advocating for a guard rail to be installed on that stretch of road.
"A simple rail there, and my daughter would still be alive today. And actually, I'm hoping that I can contact the right people and maybe start a fund in her name to raise funds to build a rail there," Sittner said.
KTVB spoke with the adults who were in the car. They say another car sped around the corner, and they were forced to swerve to avoid the other car. They told KTVB their tire slipped off the edge of the road, and they were unable to regain control of the car. They say the other car did not stop. Pearl's father relayed the same information and says he hopes people pay more attention while driving rural roads.
"I just know especially with age that people need to be more aware of their driving because especially on mountain roads and dirt roads because it is already unsafe from the curves and with the dirt road, you could slide off very easily. This is an example, innocent lives can be lost when you're careless. A four year old girl that was very innocent. Gone," Sittner said.
Sittner says his daughter Pearl loved her kitten and was excited to start going to school.
"She was eager to start school and learn, go to school like her sister. She liked to collect little things, just like littlest pet shop and pennies that she found, or just little tiny things. She liked to keep them in her purse so she had all this stuff in her purse," Sittner said. "She was always so much fun. Probably with most kids, there's almost never a dull moment with her. If you were down, or if I was down, she would make me happy just to see her face and her blue eyes. Just a very pretty little girl."
The vehicle was not removed from the water until Friday afternoon. The accident remains under investigation by the Boise County Sheriff's Office. Deputies are investigating the possibility that another car may have been involved. They are also examining whether the SUV's driver should be charged.