River Rescue: For Third Time, Salt Lake City Strangers Step Up


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SALT LAKE CITY) — This weekend, Utah’s Salt Lake City area upped its ranking as one of the nicest places on Earth after a dramatic rescue by people who just happened to be passing by.

On New Year’s Eve, a group of nearly 10 strangers saved three children trapped in a car that had plunged into the Logan River. The driver had been trying to brake on a slick road and lost control.

It was the third incident in nearly six months where a passersby had stopped to help someone in danger.

In September, college student Brandon Wright was driving his motorcycle in Logan, Utah, when a car pulled out in front of him. The 21-year-old’s bike hit the car’s hood and became trapped underneath it with Wright still holding on. Both vehicles then burst into flames.

A crowd of eight or nine people, including construction workers and students from Utah State University, lifted the burning car and pulled Wright out.

“They should get used to being called heroes because that’s what they are,” Wright said during a hospital news conference in September. “They restored my faith in humanity.”

And in December, when a Utah Transit Authority bus hit Aryann Smith in a crosswalk, leaving the 24-year-old pinned underneath, a West Valley City police officer consoled the badly injured woman by holding her hand and giving her words of encouragement.

According to Salt Lake City’s Deseret News, Officer Kevin Peck crawled under the bus and held Smith’s hand until the vehicle was lifted and she was pulled out. Though Smith’s legs were badly injured, she was not expected to lose them.

“She asked me not to leave. So I said I would just stay under there with her until we got her out,” he told the newspaper.

In the latest act of random kindness from rescuers, Roger Andersen, 46, was driving northbound on U.S. 89 in a Honda Accord on Saturday when he tried to brake and lost control. His daughter and another girl, both 9, and his son, 4, were trapped in the car after it slid off the road.

“He was panicked, doing everything he could to get in through the doors, but they wouldn’t budge,” said rescuer Chris Willden, a Defense Department contractor who shot out one of the car’s window and helped remove a girl from a seat belt.

Willden, with three children of his own, and his father were among several men who made their way down the embankment into the water.

Though they were lifeless after rescuers pulled them from the car, the boy and his sister were reportedly doing well in intensive care at Primary Children’s Medical Center. The father and the other girl were not injured, authorities said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio´╗┐

Respond to this story