Accident Database

Report ID# 101975

  • Other
  • Does not Apply
  • Cold Water
  • Other
  • High Water

Accident Description

June 03, 2020

Bystanders help rescue family out of river in Logan Canyon

By Jen Riess,

Posted - May 31, 2020

LOGAN — Rescue crews called upon bystanders to help retrieve a mother and her four kids from their vehicle, which was stuck the river in Logan Canyon. The Logan Fire Department responded to the call about a family trapped in their minivan at 2:15 p.m. Saturday.

"When we arrived on scene, I found a Toyota minivan in the middle of the river in probably one of the worst spots we could find them," said Battalion Chief Joshua Francis. Francis said crews had difficulty accessing the family due to the rushing water. Crews had multiple plans in place but were able to successfully conduct "Plan A" with the help of bystanders. "One of the cool things is we just had some people come down canyon who actually were kayakers and certified in swift water rescue as well," said Francis.

Because of the position of the vehicle and the fact that water wasn't rushing in, Francis said they had time to properly make a plan and organize volunteers. Each member of the family was individually lifted out of the vehicle in what Francis called a "pick off operation." Volunteers helped pull the ropes that lifted each person up and over to the side of the river.

"It still wasn't like what you would find in training, but what we were to accomplish was exactly what we wanted, to get everyone out of the river safely and nobody to get hurt," Francis said. A water bottle got lodged under the brake pedal of the vehicle, according to Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Nick Street.

While the driver was trying to get the bottle out from under the brake pedal, they had someone else take control of the wheel, and the vehicle then went off the road, Street said. The driver was not cited for any traffic violations, he added.

Contributing: Brian Champagne

I spoke with Marc Nelson, part of a group of experienced kayakers shuttling along the road when the accident occurred. Marc is an experienced rock climber, the group was all trained in swiftwater rescue, and one of them was a swiftwater trainer who had worked with fire companies. The firefighters were just beginning to arrive.

Marc approached the Incident Commander and offered his help; he was told to "stand by". Time passed. As they waited, he continued discussions. The biggest problem was getting a rope across the river. Marc assured the IC that they could do this. The rope would need to be anchored; Marc was familiar with the anchor the firefighters wanted and demonstrated it. After being given the go-ahead, they ferried the rope across the river and anchored it on the far shore.

After setting up the line, the group provided downstream rescue for several hours. It was very fortunate they had the time, and the car was perfectly aligned in the current to maintain stability. All five people were gotten ashore using the rope. Rescues of inexperienced, poorly equipped civilians by firefighters move much more slowly than experienced paddlers are used to, and their respectful, patent approach was vital to their success.

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