A teenager died Monday — two days after police and firefighters dove into a Salt Lake City canal to save him and a toddler.
FOX 13 quoted Justin Bates’ uncle as saying the 15-year-old escaped the sinking car then went back in it to try to save a 2-year-old still inside. Bates died Monday at Primary Children’s Hospital.
The city’s police and fire chiefs praised their personnel Monday for diving into the Jordan River canal to retrieve the kids from a submerged car.
“With no thought to personal safety, officers immediately stripped their gear and attempted a daring rescue of these two children,” said Police Chief Mike Brown in a news release. “It was dark. The water was cold. But these officers did not hesitate to come to the aid and work to save lives. I am proud of them and thankful to the bystanders who helped during this incident.”
“The rescue of these two children illustrates the dedication of Salt Lake City’s public safety employees,” said Fire Chief Karl Lieb. “The immediate action of both SLCPD and SLCFD brought both children out of the water and to awaiting medical care.
“Anything less would not have given these kids even a chance of survival.”
Bates’ relationship to the other people in the car were not disclosed Monday. About 11 p.m. Saturday, a car driving near Indiana Avenue and Delong Street failed to navigate a turn and drove into a Jordan River canal, according to a joint news release from the Salt Lake City police and fire departments.
An adult driver and four children, ages 17, 16, 15 and 2, were in the car. The news release said the driver and the two oldest teenagers were able to get themselves out, but the toddler was still in the car as it slipped under the water.
Police officers were the first to arrive, according to the news release. They removed their tactical vests and the belts on which they carry their weapons and handcuffs and dove in.
One officer dove in multiple times to enter through a window but was unable to get in due to the murkiness of the water, the news release said. Firefighters arrived, and one used his breathing apparatus to help him enter the car and retrieve the 2-year-old.
Eventually, both the 15-year-old and the toddler were retrieved and resuscitated, the news release said.
FOX 13 also reported investigators believe the 20-year-old driver was going too fast in the 30 mph zone.
Editor’s note: The Salt Lake Tribune and FOX 13 are content-sharing partners.