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Friends rescue family from sinking van

By Kat Thornburgh, Deseret News  |  Posted Nov 12th, 2011 @ 10:15pm


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WANSHIP, Summit County —  A family of seven is alive and safe after their van slid off a remote, snowy road, plunged into a pond and was submerged within minutes Saturday.

David Maughan, a friend of the family whose names have not been released, was traveling with his family in a separate car along Tollgate Canyon Road when he saw the van go off the road and into the water. He waded in the pond to help but couldn't get the doors or windows open.


Adrenaline kicks in. You do what you can.

–David Maughan


His friend called to him from inside the van. "He was in the water up to his waist and he thought he was going to lose his whole family," Maughan said.

David's son Derek grabbed a rock. He said said he "just grabbed the first thing I could and tossed it to my dad, and he broke the window with it." David cleared out the broken glass, cutting his hand in the process.

Then one by one David pulled the trapped family members out and headed toward a nearby cabin, where Sheri Richardson welcomed them in. "All of a sudden my back door opens and these two little boys come walking in, and they look like they're shocked and crying, and they have blood and stuff on their hand," Richardson said.


"I was just in the right place at the right time." David Maughan

Two families filled her living room within minutes, warming by the fire.

David said he doesn't think of himself as a hero. "I was just in the right place at the right time," he said. "I give God the credit because I felt calm, I wasn't panicking and I knew we just needed to get them up the embankment to safety."

The mother of the trapped family is also credited with helping her family remain calm as they were warming after their ordeal. The rescuers said she told her children to start thinking about what kind of new car they wanted, since they obviously need one.

Email: kthornburgh@ksl.com

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