Sal-the-brave hops right over the railing and climbs down into the thick forest below.
She finds the bus on its side. It's a big old mess, with twisted wheels and metal, and huge holes in the side. The seats are all jumbled together, and there's absolutely no way Sal can walk around inside.
Still, she scours the whole scene, hoping to find something, anything. Eventually, she climbs back up the hill to the car.
The cops are there. Ruh-roh.
First, they scold her for climbing around the bus and the scene of the accident. Then they ask Sal where "the others" (a.k.a her family) are, so she tells them that her Gram and Gramps are in Coeur d'Alene.
The cops want to know who drove her there on that dangerous road. Sal tells them the truth – s he drove herself. The cops are totally shocked (who wouldn't be?) and tell her to get in their car.
Sal is absolutely sure she's going to the slammer forever.
But instead of to jail, the cops drive her to a cemetery in Lewiston by the Snake River, where they lead her to a grave overlooking the valley. The gravestone says Chanhassen "Sugar" Pickford Hiddle and has a picture of a maple tree beneath. (Are you as surprised as we are?)
Sal realizes for the first time that her mother really and truly is never coming back.
But then something amazing happens. Sal hears a birdsong. A real, true birdsong. It's coming from a willow tree near her mother's grave.
Sal kisses the willow tree and says, "happy birthday" to it.
Then she hops back into the police car and tell the cops that they can take her jail now.