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Idaho family saves car full of people sliding into frozen river

An Idaho family potentially saved Christmas this week for another family who lost control of their vehicle and slid into the frozen Snake River.

An Idaho family potentially saved Christmas this week for another family who lost control of their vehicle and slid into the frozen Snake River. (Jessica Marboe Jenkins)


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MENAN, Idaho — An Idaho family potentially saved Christmas this week for another family that lost control of their vehicle and slid into the frozen Snake River.

Tyler Jenkins, his wife Jessica Marboe Jenkins, and their child were driving home from a cold but festive night at the Christmas River in Menan on Wednesday when Jessica Jenkins noticed the car in front of them suddenly disappeared.

"We had just barely turned right, onto the dirt road, and Tyler was talking. I interrupted him and was like, 'I think that car just went into the river,'" said Jessica Jenkins. "I kind of sped up, not a lot, but I went up so we could see, and sure enough, they were literally down in the river with their tail lights up in the air."

With the extreme cold weather and frozen ice on the road, it can be common for cars to slide while trying to turn or come to a stop. That's likely what caused the accident.

"They weren't going fast. They weren't driving recklessly or anything. It was just so slick," said Jessica Jenkins. "For those of us that live here in Idaho, we know not to hit our brakes around an icy corner. Their brake lights were on, so we think it was slick and being from California, they hit their brakes and slid instead of turning."

As they noticed the car, a Lexus, sliding down the embankment, Jessica Jenkins says Tyler Jenkins immediately jumped out to aid the strangers sliding down into the frozen river.

"Before I could even say anything, Tyler was gone," said Jessica Jenkins. "I got out and saw Tyler sliding because it was so steep, he was sliding down to the car. As soon as he got down there, he went to the drivers side door, opened it up and the older man in there was like 'No, get my family first, get my family first.'"

Inside the car were four people — an elderly man driving, an elderly woman in the passenger seat, and two people in their 30s occupying the back seats.

Tyler Jenkins listened to the man and ran to the back door, finding a younger woman waiting for help out of the car.

"Tyler opened the back door, and there was a younger gal probably in her 30s. She climbed over (another man) and Tyler lifted her up, got her out of the car, and then she started climbing up the steep ditch. I grabbed her and pulled her up to the road," said Jessica.

Tyler Jenkins attempted to save the elderly woman, climbing through the water and broken ice to get to the passenger door, the side that was the most submerged in water.

"He got her out, I helped her, and she started going into shock so I asked her if she wanted to get into our car and she said no," said Jessica Jenkins. "So I just rubbed her back and tried to help her calm down while I was on the phone with 911."

Tyler Jenkins was then able to get the man in the backseat out and onto the road above. He finally went back for the driver, who Jessica Jenkins says insisted to be the last one saved.

"The older man was in such shock because he was the driver. He clearly felt so bad as he was refusing to get out of the car. So Tyler is telling him, 'You're fine, it's okay, just get out, I got you, your whole family is on the road and they're all safe,'" said Jessica Jenkins. "He said okay, and Tyler guided him up onto the road. Once I lifted him out, I got Tyler out."

Jessica Jenkins says after the call to 911, police arrived in less than five minutes. The Jenkins are long-time locals and close friends with the manager of Hendrickson towing, who was able to quickly send a tow-truck to retrieve the vehicle.

"The older lady from the car was so funny. The cop wasn't there yet and they're from California so she thought it was going to take forever for the cops to get there," said Jessica Jenkins. "So she was like, 'Welp, call your friend, I don't wanna wait while we're out here in the freezing cold.'"

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Kaitlyn Hart

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