Utah Family Grateful to Bystanders during Icy Rescue - News - @ JEMS.com

Utah Family Grateful to Bystanders during Icy Rescue

Rescuers pulled the children one-by-one from the car and passed them up the river bank.



JIM URQUHART and PAUL FOY, Associated Press | | Tuesday, January 3, 2012

LOGAN, Utah (AP) — Roger Andersen thought it was over.

The 46-year-old lost control of his car this weekend on a winding Utah canyon road and slid into an icy river, trapping his 9-year-old daughter Mia and 4-year-old son Baylor, along with their friend, 9-year-old Kenya Wildman. The car flipped upside-down and quickly became submerged.

Bystanders Help Rescue Children from Icy Utah Crash

"The first thought was, 'So this is it how it ends," Andersen said while choking back tears Monday. "This could very easily have been a funeral for four of us."

But it wasn't, thanks to a handful of passers-by who stopped and within seconds, jumped into the frigid river to help.

"I was amazed at the people and the readiness of people to jump in and help," Anderson said at a news conference in Logan, about 80 miles north of Salt Lake City. "Without hesitation, they just did what they had to do ... And that ... for our family, made all the difference."

Andersen said they were on their way to a ski resort Saturday when the accident happened on a road they've traveled hundreds of times. The road didn't appear icy, at first, but as they made their way up the canyon, it got slicker so he slowed.

But just one tap on the brakes was all it took.

"In a second, I was completely off the road and sliding down the embankment," he said. "Within a second, the entire cabin of the vehicle was full of water."

He struggled to free the children from their seatbelts, but couldn't get them loose, and he had to breathe.

"I decided the best thing was to get out of the car and get air," he said. "In no less than 10 seconds, there were a half-dozen men standing on the banks of the river, and they're questions to me were, 'Who else was in the car?'

"Within five seconds, there were eight men in the river ... ready to assist," he added.

The rescuers pulled the children one-by-one from the car and passed them up the river bank to others, where some performed CPR on two of them — his children. They were unconscious and not breathing.

They all loaded up into a friend's SUV and sped down the mountain for help, but were met about halfway by paramedics, Andersen said. His two children were flown to a hospital in Salt Lake City, treated for hypothermia and released on Monday. The family friend also was treated and released.

"In a matter of a couple of days, now Baylor is running around just like nothing ever happened to him, and Mia is fine and Kenya is also fine," he said. "It's a story to me that is inspiring in many ways."

He said he will now learn more about how to help others.

"I need to do more so I can be at that level where I can step in and help people," Andersen said.

Kenya's father, Dennis Wildman, called it "a great story about the human spirit and our desire to help others."

He said the bystanders who didn't hesitate to help "literally brought our children home to us."

"We just want to say thank you," he said.

Former police officer Chris Willden was among the first on the scene. He said he shot out one of the car's window with his pistol to reach the trapped kids.

"I was trying to grab arms, but I couldn't feel anything," Willden said. "I'm thinking ... 'What are we going to do?'"

He turned to see at least eight other people had scrambled down the 10-foot embankment along U.S. 89 to help.

"I remember thinking to myself, 'You're going to see some dead kids, get ready,'" Willden said. "I've got three of my own and it was going to be (an awful) start to the New Year."

One of the girls had found an air pocket but was trapped by her seat belt. Willden cut it with a pocket knife and pulled her from the rear passenger window. The two other children soon followed.

Roger Andersen's wife, Mindy, fought to keep from crying Monday as she thanked the bystanders for saving the children's lives.

"Hero," she said, "is not even big enough for what they did."


Associated Press writer Brian Skoloff in Salt Lake City contributed to this report. Foy also reported from Salt Lake City.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, water rescue, bystander CPR

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Buyer's Guide Featured Companies

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

Get JEMS in Your Inbox


Fire EMS Blogs

Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts


EMS Airway Clinic

Improving Survival from Cardiac Arrest Using ACD-CPR + ITD

Using active compression-decompression CPR with an ITD has been shown to improve 1-year survival from cardiac arrest by 33%.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Philadelphia Fire Department Apologizes for Medic’s Jab at Police

Union head calls photos a slap in the face of officers.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

D.C. Fire and EMS Crews Blame New Technology for Patient’s Death

Delayed response blamed on recurring dispatch problems.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Suspect Steals, Crashes Maryland Ambulance

One killed, others injured in Prince George’s County crash.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Tennessee Trench Rescue

Worker pulled from Roane County worksite.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Time’s Ebola Firefighters

Doctors, nurses and others saluted for fighting virus.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Car Strikes Manhattan Pedestrians

Seven people hurt when car jumps curb.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >

More Product Videos >