By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

A woman was rescued yesterday and is in serious condition after the van she was riding in careened over an embankment near Hiouchi.

The woman, Pat Warner, 58, of Prospect, Ore., was trapped in the van for nearly two hours and was transported to Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford after first being admitted to Sutter Coast Hospital. She is reported to be in serious condition with head injuries.

The driver of the van, Leah Ann Bird, 59, of Medford, was treated for minor injuries and released from Sutter Coast Hospital yesterday afternoon.

Gasquet and Smith River fire departments responded to the scene of the crash, as did the California Highway Patrol.

The white 1993 GMC van was precariously held in place against a tree about 200 feet above a turbulent Smith River. The vehicle pivoted as rescue personnel climbed over it, in attempts to free the woman, even as it was anchored by chains to both a fire truck and a tow truck.

The jaws of life were used to free Warner after rescue workers first secured the vehicle.

We needed to get things stabilized to keep things safe, said Assistant Chief Monte Satern of Gasquet. We needed to make sure everybody was safe before we could go forward.

Fireman David Dodds of Smith River Station said the jaws of life werent working too well because the generator used to power the tool kept running out of gasoline during the lengthy rescue effort.

But Satern said that overall things went pretty well.

For never working together before in a situation like this, I dont think it went too bad, Satern told the various emergency crew members after the ordeal had ended.