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Passers-by rescue kids from crash in icy river

Mon., Jan. 2, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY – As many as 10 people jumped into an icy Utah river to save three trapped children after a car plunged down a 10-foot embankment and flipped over, the state’s Highway Patrol said Sunday.

The rescuers helped turn the Honda Accord upright in the Logan River, and one man shot out the car’s window with a handgun and cut a seat belt to help free the children after the Saturday afternoon accident, patrol Lt. Steve Winward said.

The driver, Roger Andersen, 46, of Logan, lost control as he tried to brake while heading northbound on U.S. 89 during slick conditions. His 9-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son were trapped along with a second 9-year-old girl.

“He was panicked, doing everything he could to get in through the doors, but they wouldn’t budge,” said rescuer Chris Willden, who had jumped into the water with his own father after coming upon the scene.

Willden shot out one window with his Glock handgun after trying unsuccessfully to open windows and doors. As he reached upward searching for arms and legs, he felt nothing.

Then he saw six or so other men scrambling down the bank into the water. Together they pushed up on the vehicle enough so they could see in through the windows.

One of the girls had found an air pocket and was breathing fine but was trapped in her seat belt. Willden cut it with a pocket knife and pulled her from the rear passenger window.

He said the other two kids were lifeless, the boy upside down in his car seat and the second girl floating in the front passenger compartment. The boy was cut out of his car seat and pulled out with the other girl.

Buzzy Mullahkel, of North Logan, said the boy wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse but was revived when another passer-by quickly performed CPR.

The two were flown by air ambulance to Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

A hospital spokeswoman said Sunday both are doing well after spending the night in intensive care.

The father and the second girl escaped injury, authorities said.


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