Children rescued from icy Utah river return home
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Three children trapped in an upturned car after it skidded into a river were released Monday from a hospital, two days after they were saved by several passers-by.
The children had been treated for hypothermia, said Primary Children’s Medical Center spokeswoman Bonnie Midget. The family wasn’t answering phone calls.
At least nine people helped right the car in the river.
“It’s an amazing story, so good,” Laurel Andersen Gilbert, the driver’s sister, told The Associated Press on Monday. “We’re so grateful. It was a miracle.”
The father, Roger Andersen, lost control of the car Saturday on a slippery, narrow stretch of road in Logan Canyon. Andersen, his two children and his niece were going to a ski resort at the head of Logan Canyon.
One of the first people on the scene was former police officer Chris Willden, who shot out a car window when he realized children were trapped in the upside-down Honda Accord. He pulled his handgun, pushed it against the submerged rear window, shot out the glass and reached inside.
“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 after coming upon the accident along U.S. 89.
Andersen, 46, of Logan, was able to free himself, but his 9-year-old daughter Mia and 4-year-old son Baylor were trapped along with their cousin, 9-year-old Kenya Wildman.
“(The driver) was panicked, doing everything he could to get in through the doors, but they wouldn’t budge,” said Willden, who had jumped into the waist-deep water with his own father.
“I remember thinking to myself, ‘You’re going to see some dead kids, get ready.’ I’ve got three of my own and it was going to be (an awful) start to the New Year.”
Willden said he tried unsuccessfully to open windows and doors. He then used his firearm just as he had done in training for his job as a bodyguard and Department of Defense contractor.
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. She and Andersen escaped injury.
The other two children were unconscious, the boy upside-down in his car seat and the second girl floating in the front passenger compartment, Willden said.
Buzzy Mullahkel, of North Logan, told the Deseret News of Salt Lake City that the boy wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse but was revived by CPR.
“Emotions started taking over when he started to breathe. Everybody started to cheer. Lots of tears and clapping,” said Mullahkel, a father of a 4-year-old.
Willden, 35 of Ogden, was wrapping up his bleeding forearms cut by the broken window when he heard cheers.
“That was awesome,” he said. “I knew that’s where the little boy was.”
The father of Andersen’s niece, Dennis Wildman, told the AP he has “absolutely” no hard feelings about the accident.