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First responder talks about risky rescue in Big Cottonwood Canyon

By Tania Dean, KSL TV | Posted - Jan. 25, 2021 at 7:03 p.m.


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SALT LAKE COUNTY — A wild crash up Big Cottonwood Canyon was caught on tape, showing the moment two vehicles went right over the edge.

Everyone survived, but a woman who was trapped inside one of the vehicles had to be carefully rescued.

"Seeing the video of those cars going over, that would be terrifying," said Brian Anderton, a battalion chief with Unified Fire Authority. "Just with a very narrow shoulder, the road drops about 75 feet down a steep embankment."

Anderton was part of the team that was called in to rescue the victims of the crash.

"We had a lot of concerns for the people who were involved and knew it would be technical and probably a long operation to get them out safely," he said.

The accident happened around 2 p.m. Sunday.

A pickup truck coming down the canyon right above the "S-curve" can been seen on dash cam video spinning out and hitting a Subaru. Both vehicles went off the edge, and the pickup truck headed straight into the creek below.

Three people in the Subaru were able to get out safely on their own, as well as the driver of the pickup. But a female passenger was another story. She was trapped in the truck, upside-down in the creek.

"The rescue itself was certainly difficult and dangerous. Sliding down the steep rock-covered hill that was snowy and icy," said Anderton. "It was cold for the victims and it was cold for our workers who were in the water for quite awhile."

Rescuers brought in the jaws of life to cut the truck open. They then had to build a complicated rope system up the steep embankment and back to the roadway.

After about two hours, they had the woman safely in an ambulance and on her way to the hospital.

"I think all things considered, we had some people get out of there pretty luckily, having that car roll down that hill, flip over, be upside down in the creek," said Anderton. "Between the cold weather and the water, there's so many things that could have gone wrong."

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Tania Dean

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