Toddler survives 14 hours inside submerged car

An 18-MONTH-OLD girl has had a miraculous escape after being found alive in a car more than 14 hours after it crashed and overturned into a Utah river, killing her mother.

Officers right the car and push it out of the river after the tragedy. Picture: AP
Officers right the car and push it out of the river after the tragedy. Picture: AP

The toddler, Lily Groesbeck, was found by a local fisherman hanging upside down strapped in her car. The water which had been flowing through the car underneath never touched her.

She was rushed to hospital in Salt Lake City where her condition is described as stable but critical.

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Her 25-year-old mother, Lynn Groesbeck of Springville, was found dead in the car.

Ms Groesbeck’s sister, Jill Sanderson, said of her niece: “She is doing remarkably well considering the circumstance. The doctors have been hopeful so far.”

“We would like to express our appreciation to the rescue team for saving the baby’s life.”

The fisherman discovered the car on its roof at about 12:30pm on Saturday in the Spanish Fork River, about 50 miles south of Salt Lake City.

Investigators believe the accident happened at about 10:30pm on Friday when a resident near the accident scene reported hearing a noise.

The resident was unable to find anything unusual when checking the area.

Police Lieutenant Matt Johnson said the girl was found hanging upside down above the river that flowed through the car, and the water never reached high enough to touch her. Her mother was found in the driver’s seat.

The car hit a cement barrier on the bridge and careered into the river. It landed under the bridge and was difficult to see from the road. Police are unsure why the car left the road, and investigations are continuing.

Family members told police that Ms Groesbeck left her parents’ nearby home in Salem about 10pm on Friday and was en route to her Springville home near Provo when the crash occurred.

She was enrolled at Provo College with a goal of becoming a medical assistant, and had lived in the Provo area for her entire life.

“She was very compassionate and a very loving person and always willing to bend over backwards for her loved ones,” Ms Sanderson said.

“Her baby was the love of her life. She was an amazing mother.”

She said the family appreciated the messages of support which have poured in from across the country.

“We’ve been pretty taken back by the impacts that this story has had on people, and it’s been really comforting to know that people care and that they take the time to send loving comments,” she said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for funeral costs and Lily’s ongoing medical care.

Three police officers and four firefighters who entered the river to push the car on its side and rescue the girl were released after treatment for hypothermia at a hospital.

One of the rescuers Bryan Dewitt, said he distinctly recalled hearing a voice saying, “Help me, help me,” though has no idea where it came from.

The temperature dipped to about freezing overnight while the girl was trapped in the car.