Detectives are still trying to sort out what happened, but their initial investigation shows the mother had parked her car on the beach, then told her 8-year-old daughter to stay in the car while she went fishing, said Pacific County Sheriff Scott Johnson.
Some time later, someone walking along the beach spotted the mother's body rolling in on the beach, Johnson said. The woman's daughter was then found still inside the car, which was now surrounded by the waters of the incoming tide. The girl was very scared but otherwise not hurt, Johnson said.
Police are still trying to locate other members of the girl's family.
The name of the woman who died has not been released.