Twin sisters escaped a car crash in Washington state on Friday, but the 4-year-old girls had to leave the vehicle without their father, who died in the accident.
Describing the scene as “very tragic,” Washington State Patrol spokeswoman Heather Axtman tells PEOPLE that police received a 911 call around 6 p.m. local time, and upon arriving, found that the girls’ father, Corey Simmons, had died.
As the vehicle left the road, it traveled about 100 feet down a steep embankment, authorities said as an investigation continues.
“In this particular area of our state, it’s a real rural area, pretty wooded, a lot of under-brush,” Axtman tells PEOPLE, adding that the road was not well-lit and it was “pitch-black” outside at the time of the crash.
Following the accident, the two girls, who were riding in booster seats in the back, “were able to unbuckle themselves and check on dad,” according to Axtman, who notes that Simmons, who “suffered a substantial head injury,” likely would not have been able to respond to the girls.
The twins then crawled out of a broken window and made their way up to the roadway, where they got the attention of a woman whom authorities are calling a good Samaritan.
“As she was driving down the road her headlights had illuminated the area and she didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, but just as she passed, she saw two little girls standing on the side of the road,” says Axtman, adding that after the woman got the children to safety, they kept repeating, “my daddy, my daddy.”
Sensing that “something tragic had happened,” the woman attempted to locate the crashed vehicle, but it was not visible from the roadway.
After police arrived, the girls were taken to a local hospital with minor injuries.
“One of the girls suffered a bump on her head, another girl suffered a scratch on her arm,” Axtman tells PEOPLE.
They were “reunited with their family” at the hospital, says Axtman.
Simmons’ girlfriend, Esther Crider, told the Seattle Times that Simmons, who was on his way home at the time of the crash, was very familiar with the area.
“Corey drove up and down that road every day for about five years,” she said. “I don’t know what happened.”
While Crider added the girls were “physically fine” apart from their minor injuries, she noted that their father’s death has been emotional for them. “Rosaline used to giggle in her sleep. Now she’s crying.”
Simmons’ family has started a GoFundMe to raise money for his funeral and other expenses, raising over $6,000 so far.
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Despite the tragedy, Axtman tells PEOPLE that “it could have been so much different.”
“These two little girls, at 4 years old, overcame every typical fear a little kid has, and that’s dark and woods,” she says, noting that had the children not sought help, “we ultimately would have had a missing family.”
“Instead, they realized that their dad needed help and heroically decided to leave that car,” Axtman adds. “All the tragedy that surrounds this crash, we have very brave little girls that did everything in their ability to help their dad and that to me is amazing.”