LOGAN — A mother and four children are alive after being rescued by emergency crews, law enforcement and a number of citizens. The five were traveling through Logan Canyon, US-89, Saturday afternoon when their minivan went off the highway and into the Logan River.
Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Cade Brenchley said the family was driving from Logan to Bear Lake. Near the Logan Cave, milepost 473, the vehicle drifted off of the road into the river. An amateur radio operator came upon the accident shortly after it occurred and was able to report the crash to Logan City Dispatch.
“The radio operator told dispatchers that there were people in the van, including small children,” explained Brenchley. “They were okay and the van was not moving or filling with water, but he did say they were very cold and needed help out.”
UHP troopers, Cache County Search and Rescue teams and Logan City fire fighters responded to the scene. They closed down the canyon in both directions after determining it was going to take some time to rescue the family and traffic had already backed up for more than a mile.
Brenchley explained that the mother allegedly reached down to grab a spilled water bottle, causing the van to drift off the road. Once in the river, it was swept downstream about 50 yards by the fast moving current.
“The van couldn’t have gotten hung up in a better spot. It was facing the current and the windshield was intact. The nose was a little bit up so water wasn’t going above the windshield. The car was still slowly filling with water, but no more than just four to five inches if that much at all. We were extremely lucky there.”
Search and rescue teams were able to set up a rope and pulley system with the help of some trained kayakers and the fire department’s ladder-truck. Rescuers also positioned themselves downstream in case something went wrong.
Brenchley said the water was running so high and swift, they were concerned that if one of the family members got caught in the current, they would be swept downstream. The roadway is also narrow in that part of the canyon which added additional challenges.
“They put life jackets on each of the children, put them in a harness, hoisted them out and brought them back one at a time. They got the children out and then the mother. The only visible injury was the teenage daughter, who had a laceration on the inside of her leg. Other than that, they were in very good condition. It was a successful rescue and couldn’t have gone any better.”
The section of the highway remained closed for five hours while emergency crews rescued the family. A tow-truck then pulled the van out of the river.
Brenchley thanked not only the emergency personnel but also a number of citizens who stopped to help. They were able to assist crews with the rope and pulley system.
“We had civilians manning some of the ropes. It was a systematic rescue, where you had to pull and then hold everything in place. We had civilians that jumped right in, to do what they could do.”
The mother and four children were emotionally shaken up by the ordeal. They were treated by paramedics at the scene and transported to Logan Regional Hospital to be checked out.