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SALT LAKE CITY — Three teenagers are in the hospital after a vehicle rolled into the Jordan River.
The teenage driver of a GMC Yukon traveling eastbound on Indiana Ave. was unable to stop in time for cars stopped at a red light at a crosswalk, according to Lt. Brian Purvis of the Salt Lake City Police Department.
Purvis said the vehicle, registered to the driver’s parents, was likely going too fast, and when the driver realized he couldn’t stop in time, he appeared to swerve to miss the cars. At that point, the driver lost control of the vehicle, rolling it upside down into the Jordan River.
“Luckily there was a group of bystanders that were in the area that jumped into the river and rolled the car back over and were able to help get the passengers out,” Purvis said.
The bystanders were able to hold the passengers’ heads above water, Purvis said. The two teenaged male passengers were able to get out of the vehicle with the bystanders’ help. The driver was pinned in and had to be extricated by firefighters.
Ed Kirby and Ron Darro were two of the bystanders who helped flip the vehicle.
“Everybody was yelling to jump in the water, and it just started snowballing. More and more people were in the water,” Darro said.
By the time Kirby got there, the two passengers were out of the vehicle, but the driver was not. Kirby said the driver was under water for five to six minutes.
“He was blue and not breathing,” Kirby said. Kirby said people were trying to get to the driver through the windows and the doors.
Darro said he tried several ways to rescue the driver as well. He said the water was at chest level, and he held his breath while he went under the water to try and get the driver out of the vehicle.
“I tried to pull him out but he was twisted around the steering wheel,” Darro said. He also said the group tried to use a knife to cut the seatbelt.
“He was under the water for quite some time,” Kirby said.
Once they realized they would be unable to get the driver out of the vehicle, everyone banded together to flip the vehicle right side up.
All three of the vehicle’s occupants were transported by ground to the hospital. The driver was in serious condition, according to Purvis. The two passengers’ conditions were not as serious. Purvis said they were both upright and talking. None of the occupants' names have been released.
The investigation is still ongoing, but Purvis said the situation could have been much worse.
“It could’ve been a terrible outcome,” Purvis said. “It was just very, very lucky” the incident occurred where there were people around to help.
Darro, who lost a shoe while he was in the river, was grateful for the outcome as well.
“It was neat to see people pull together as a community in a time of crisis and help people,” Darro said.