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Salt Lake Police Department

Teen dies from injuries suffered in weekend Jordan River crash

By Daedan Olander, KSL | Updated - Aug. 11, 2020 at 12:29 a.m. | Posted - Aug. 10, 2020 at 5:55 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY — A 15-year-old pulled from the car that crashed into the Jordan River Saturday night has died, according to Salt Lake police.

Gerald Bates said his son, Justin Bates, was somebody “that never liked going out and getting in trouble. He stayed at home. He was a really good soul — an old soul.”

“He’s greatly loved and will be missed.”

The two children who were trapped in the water in the accident were transported to Primary Children’s Hospital in critical condition following the crash, police said over the weekend. An update on the 2-year-old’s condition was not released Monday.

Five people were involved in the accident, and three were able to escape the car and swim to shore before it submerged, including the driver. The two youngest children, ages 15 and 2, were trapped in the car. Police officers dove into the water to rescue them and were later joined by members of the Salt Lake City Fire Department.

“I tried to go under and see if I could find an opening to the car, but I couldn’t,” Salt Lake police officer Miles Knapp said.

The toddler was rescued by a member of the fire department.

Fire department paramedics also performed CPR and resuscitated the children once they were out of the water.

The driver crashed after losing control of the car at around 11 p.m. Saturday near Indiana Avenue and Delong Street, police said.

Emotional body camera footage released by police Monday showed more than eight first responders in the water during the rescue efforts and multiple emergency vehicles ashore. One responder was wearing an oxygen tank and a mask as he walked into the dark water.

Emergency personnel on the shore could also be heard in the video communicating with two people, both of whom were weeping and calling out, trying to identify where the children were sitting in the vehicle.

A woman told rescuers that one child was in the back seat on the passenger side. She refused to leave the shore as police and firefighters worked, insisting on watching and waiting.

A male voice could also be heard shouting, “Come on, little brother, please.”

At one point, first responders began shouting “got her,” and calls to begin CPR could also be heard.

“With no thought to personal safety, officers immediately stripped their gear and attempted a daring rescue of these two children,” said Salt Lake Police Chief Mike Brown in a news release Monday. “It was dark. The water was cold. But these officers did not hesitate to come to the aid and work to save lives. I am proud of them and thankful to the bystanders who helped during this incident.”

While Bates mourns the death of his son, he says the night could have been even worse.

“I lost Justin,” he said, “but I was blessed I didn’t lose another one.”

Contributing: Andrew Adams, KSL TV

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