A mother and her toddler were taken to Mercy Tiffin Hospital early Tuesday morning after their car left the roadway and went into a creek in Loudon Township.
The accident occurred on US 224, between TR 101 and TR 66, with the car coming to rest in the east branch of Wolf Creek.
Sgt. Angel Burgos of State Highway Patrol identified the driver as Catrina R. Snyder, 20, and the passenger as Akirah Cole, 20 months, both of New Riegel.
The 1996 Plymouth Neon was westbound on US 224 when it drove off the south edge of the road, off the creek bank and into the water. The distance from the road to the creek was more than 17 feet, said Sgt. Darryl Edge of State Highway Patrol.
Dean Snyder, Catrina's father and Akirah's grandfather, said Catrina never had gotten a traffic ticket and never had been in a traffic accident prior to falling asleep at the wheel. She had dropped a friend off in Tiffin after making cookies and cupcakes and was returning home, he said.
Dean said Catrina had no recollection of how she got out of the water, but she remembers the airbag breaking her nose.
Her daughter was screaming, and the car was filling with water.
Dean recalled his daughter saying, "I only cared about getting my baby out of there."
"My daughter, she's my new hero," he said.
Catrina got out of the vehicle, waded through the water and climbed up a slippery, wet embankment with broken wrists in the dark. She kept sliding up and down the bank, her father said.
"She had to make several attempts," he said.
Dean, who discourages people from driving when they are tired, expressed appreciation for the residents of the home where his daughter sought help.
A Seneca County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman said a person from 7737 W. US 224 reported at 1:12 a.m. a mother came to the door with a baby and had been injured as a result of an accident. New Riegel EMS and Bascom Joint Fire District personnel assisted at the scene.
Dean also expressed appreciation for the staff at Mercy Tiffin Hospital.
The staff "went above and beyond," he said.
Akirah was released from Mercy Tiffin Hospital Tuesday evening. Catrina, who was cited with failure to control, had a cast on her left arm, a neck brace, a broken nose and ribs, and a lung contusion. Dean said the contusion is why she was transferred to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center.
He said his daughter started cracking jokes and was walking around Tuesday night.
"She wants out of that bed," he said.
Dean said if the car had flipped, the accident would have had a different ending. He said he knows God was watching out for Catrina and Akirah, and he is thankful.
"I'm insanely blessed," he said.