ASTORIA, Ore. – A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew spotted a woman wanted for killing her 2-year-old daughter and for the attempted murder of her teenage daughter and helped lead authorities to her location.
Jessica Smith was arrested Sunday, two days after police around the Northwest started searching for her.
The Coast Guard released video from the helicopter Tuesday. It showed the helicopter crew spotting Smith from the air and then her arrest by police.
Smith was hiding on a remote logging road 15 miles east of Cannon Beach.
The MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter took off from the Coast Guard’s air station in Astoria and searched for hours just above the tree tops. Then the pilot pulled up to 1,000 feet because they were done searching for the day. That’s when a mechanic looked out the window and, even at that altitude, saw a truck. A few moments later a woman got out.
The crew thought the woman wasn’t trying to hide or run away; instead, they thought Smith was trying to get their attention.
There were five people on the aircraft. Petty Officer Blair Petterson was the first to spot the gold truck.
“(I) requested the pilot to circle back around to get a better look,” he said Tuesday.
“It’s amazing that he was able to spot the vehicle like he did,” said pilot Lt. Cmdr. Josh Nelson, “because even after we knew where the vehicle was, and I was orbiting around the vehicle, I had trouble keeping it in sight. The gold vehicle really blended in.”
Petterson said after the helicopter hovered above the vehicle, Smith got out of it.
The crew couldn’t land because of the ruggedness of the terrain; instead, the Coast Guard crew guided deputies to the spot, but even they got lost for a time.
The helicopter’s camera was recording when deputies found the spot and arrested Smith.
“The chances of us coming back the route that we were coming direct from where we finished our search to here at Astoria, flying right over where she was (were) astronomical,” Nelson said.
The crew had no way to talk to Smith so they dropped a message down to her in a small plastic bag weighted down by sand. The message said: “Help is on the way.”
Smith sat down and waited. A few minutes later deputies arrived.
Watch the Coast Guard video: