Two officers who were conducting "flood watch" at a popular Tooele reservoir were able to rescue a 12-year-old girl who was trapped in a car that plummeted into the water Saturday afternoon by using their police-issued gun to shoot out a window and pull her out, police say.
It all started when a minivan traveling on a road near Settlement Canyon Reservoir went off the road and fell about 15 to 20 feet into the reservoir around 2 p.m., according to Tooele Police Cpl. Colbey Bentley. He said a 43-year-old woman, a 12-year-old girl and a young boy were all in the vehicle at the time of the crash.
"It was pretty frantic for a few minutes," said Mike Kramer, one of several people at the busy reservoir when it happened.
He told KSL-TV that he had just arrived when he heard a splash and a "bunch of commotion" before he saw a vehicle begin to sink and disappear into the water.
"It was a do-or-die situation," he added. "It wasn't a situation where you could just sit there and think about it."
It just so happened that two Tooele police officers were already at the reservoir, checking the water levels on its other side so they could report any possible flooding. Witnesses quickly flagged the officers and told them what was happening on the other side, Bentley said.
He said the officers rushed to the scene, where the woman and boy had already managed to escape from the vehicle, which was now fully submerged underwater with the 12-year-old girl still inside. The officers tried to break open a window but the pressure was too much, so they used a gun to shoot out one of the windows of the minivan and pull the girl out to safety.
The girl was initially unconscious and not breathing; however, she was able to start breathing on her own after first responders performed CPR. She remained in "stable condition" at a Salt Lake County hospital Saturday night, according to Tooele police.
Bentley said it's unclear what caused the vehicle to crash into the reservoir, though he said there was a storm in the area at the time of the crash. He also thanked all the people who helped notify police so that everyone in the vehicle could be rescued.
"We were lucky there were people here to see it happen," he said. "I can't think of a better example of 'right place, right time' because if they're not up there, I don't think that girl makes it."