A Craig woman was charged with driving under the influence Tuesday night after she drove her car off Colorado Highway 13 and into the Yampa River.
Gretel Pogline, 29, was headed south when she crossed onto the northbound lane, where she sideswiped the guardrail and continued sideswiping it for 41 feet.
The car crossed the highway again, went up an embankment and traveled parallel to the highway along the hill. It then made a 90-degree turn, crossed the highway again and vaulted into the air for 32 feet.
The car landed on its wheels and traveled 37 feet before going off a cliff into the Yampa River. It floated about a quarter of a mile before getting stuck.
Pogline, who wasn't wearing a seatbelt, was able to climb out and swim nearly 60 feet to the bank, where a witness pulled her out.
She was transported to The Memorial Hospital, where she was treated for two cuts to the bottom of her chin.
Pogline was cited for driving under the influence and careless driving.
"She's lucky," said Colorado State Patrol Trooper Roger Kendall. "She's lucky a guy saw her, or we would have never known she was down there."
A witness saw Pogline's Chevrolet Avalanche leave the road, and he ran to the River Ridge Restaurant for help. He didn't know the vehicle had gone into the river until he returned, in time to help Pogline out of the water.
"Fortunately, her window was open," Kendall said. "The vehicle was facing into the current, and she wouldn't have been able to open the door."
Kendall said Pogline indicated she had no recollection of the accident or of swimming to the bank.
He thinks she passed out while driving.
"The rolling tire marks indicate there was no attempt to brake," he said. "She wasn't going fast. There's no high speed indicated in this accident -- 60 to 65. All the evidence indicates she was asleep or passed out."
Pogline consented to a blood test, which has to be sent to a laboratory.
The car will remain in the river until water levels decrease, which Kendall estimates will be between three and six weeks. Moffat County Search and Rescue and the Colorado Parks Service will use a wrecker to pull the car out as a training exercise.
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.