your connection to The Boston Globe

Driver trapped in ravine 8 days rescued

Husband says red tape delayed search by police

SEATTLE - A woman who spent eight days trapped in a wrecked vehicle has severe injuries, but her brain function is normal and she can move her arms and legs, her physician said yesterday.

Tanya Rider, 33, was found alive but dehydrated at the bottom of a steep ravine in suburban Maple Valley Thursday, more than a week after she failed to return home from work. After rescuers cut her out of her sport utility vehicle, she was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where she was in critical condition.

Dr. Lisa McIntyre said during a hospital news conference yesterday that Rider was doing better, but she's "not out of the woods yet." McIntyre said Rider's kidneys failed because of toxins from a muscle injury in the crash and dehydration. She was being treated with intravenous fluids.

Rider was sedated and on a ventilator, McIntyre said. In addition to kidney failure, she was being treated for extensive sores from lying in the same position for a week, and nearly had to have a leg amputated, said her husband, Tom Rider.

Her husband said yesterday that he was frustrated by the red tape he had to get through to get authorities to launch a search for his wife more than a week after she disappeared.

"She's a fighter, obviously," Rider said. "She fought to stay alive in the car and she's fighting now."

Authorities found the Maple Valley woman after detecting the general location of her cellphone Thursday morning, then searching along Highway 169 near Renton, southeast of Seattle, the route she took home from work. They noticed some matted brush, and below it found Rider's vehicle, smashed on its side, said Jeff Merrill, State Patrol spokesman.

Tanya Rider left work at a Fred Meyer grocery store in Bellevue on Sept. 19 but never made it home. When her husband couldn't reach her, he said, he called Bellevue police to report his wife missing.

Bellevue police took the report right away, but when they found video of Tanya Rider getting into her car after work, they told her husband the case was out of their jurisdiction and he should notify King County, he said. Tom Rider said he tried that, but "the first operator I talked to on the first day I tried to report it flat denied to start a missing persons report because she didn't meet the criteria," he said.

"I basically hounded them until they started a case and then, of course, I was the first focal point, so I tried to get myself out of the way as quickly as possible. I let them search the house. I told them they didn't have to have a warrant for anything, just ask," he said.

On Thursday morning, detectives asked him to come in to sign for a search of phone records. They also asked him to take a polygraph test.

"By the time he was done explaining the polygraph test to me, the detective burst into the room with a cellphone map that had a circle on it," he said.

His wife's car tumbled about 20 feet down a ravine and lay buried below brush and blackberry bushes. The air bags deployed, but she was injured and trapped. Rescuers cut the roof off to get her out.

"I know there were delays [in finding her] because of red tape," Tom Rider said.

He said he also drove the route where his wife was found but didn't see any sign of a crash. He offered a $25,000 reward for any information leading to her safe return. Authorities said they followed procedure in the case.

"It's not that we didn't take him seriously," Deputy Rodney C. Chinnick said. "We don't take every missing person report on adults. . . . If we did, we'd be doing nothing but going after missing person reports."

More from