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Roger Hughes of Santa Rosa, Calif., walks around the pickup his wife, Deborah, was driving Monday when she fell asleep at the wheel and plunged over a steep embankment on Interstate 5 southbound at the Oregon-California border. - Jim Craven

Driver survives pickup plunge

YREKA, Calif. — A Santa Rosa, Calif., woman was injured Monday after she apparently fell asleep and drove her pickup over the side of Interstate 5 near the Oregon-California border, plunging about 200 feet off the roadway, authorities said.

Deborah Hughes, 55, suffered unspecified injuries in the 2 p.m. crash and was taken by ambulance toFairchild Medical Center in Yreka, according to the Oregon State Police.

Hughes was treated in the hospital's emergency room and released, a hospital nursing supervisor said.

Hughes and her husband, Roger, were driving separate vehicles on their way back to Santa Rosa after spending several days in Grants Pass, Roger Hughes said.

Hughes said his wife complained about being tired while eating lunch in Grants Pass, but the couple decided to drive to Redding, Calif., before stopping for the day, he said.

"That was a mistake," Hughes said. He said he was in the lead and looked back to see his wife falling asleep just as her pickup left the road.

"Thank God for seat belts and airbags because she's alive," Hughes said. "It's just a miracle she's alive."

Buffy, a pet bird that was in the truck during the accident, survived, he said. A cat that was also in the truck at the time could not be immediately located at the scene, he said.

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