From the California Highway Patrol:
On January 12, 2017, at approximately 8:19 AM, the California Highway Patrol received a report of a traffic collision on US-101 in Mendocino County, near milepost marker 57.00, involving a vehicle which had run off the highway and was in Outlet Creek. One of the vehicle’s occupants had made their way to the roadway and had waved down a passing motorist. It was soon discovered the collision had occurred at approximately 7:30 PM the night before, and one additional occupant was said to be involved, and possibly still inside the vehicle.
The vehicle was almost fully submerged in the swift moving current of Outlet Creek, approximately 300 feet from the shore, and was not visible from the highway. Little Lake Volunteer Fire Department Swift Water Rescue Team responded to the scene. A rescue swimmer was able to make it to the vehicle and confirmed there was a second occupant, the driver of the vehicle still inside. The driver was extricated and pronounced deceased at the scene. Swift Water Rescue was then able to attach a tow truck cable to the submerged vehicle, and the vehicle was recovered from Outlet Creek.
The passenger, Natalie Griffith, had spent most of the night stranded on a tree in the river after climbing out of the submerged vehicle. Upon first light, she swam to shore and climbed up the embankment to the highway where she obtained assistance from the passing motorist. The passenger was transported by ambulance to Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits for treatment of minor injuries and exposure.
This collision remains under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.