For 18-month-old Lily Groesbeck, the timing of one stranger’s fishing trip may have very well saved her life. An angler fishing the frigid waters of Utah’s Spanish Fork River discovered the infant after finding an overturned vehicle submerged in the water. On Saturday, police and firefighters rushed into the river and worked as quickly as they could to get inside the vehicle. The water was so cold that seven of the rescuers had to be hospitalized for hypothermia, but they achieved their objective. Against all odds, Lily Groesbeck survived more than 14 hours in the car, her restraints barely holding her head above the water.
“The infant was transported to Mountain View Hospital by ambulance and then airlifted to Primary Children’s Hospital. The infant is in critical condition,” stated Spanish Fork Public Safety on its Facebook page.
The baby’s mother, 25-year-old Lynn Jennifer Groesbeck, was found dead at the scene in the driver’s seat. Officials believe that Groesbeck was returning home on Friday when she struck a cement barrier on the south end of a nearby bridge and tumbled into the river. According to CNN, a nearby resident heard the crash and came outside to investigate, but the four-door SUV had landed in a place that was mostly hidden from view. It was not until the next day that an angler, who has yet to be identified, ventured into the river and got a good look inside the car. The man promptly called emergency dispatch and rescuers were mobilized.
“She was definitely unconscious and not responsive,” Officer Jared Warner told CNN.
Warner was one of the many rescuers who converged on the river to rescue Lily over the weekend, and he was the one to make the sprint to the ambulance with the baby after she had been recovered from the vehicle. Rescuers said the 18-month-old was dipping in and out of the water as she was held upside-down by her seatbelts. Lily is still in critical condition, but her family is hopeful.
“She’s doing remarkably well considering what she went through,” Jill Sanderson, Lily’s aunt, told Fox 13 on Sunday. “The doctors so far have been hopeful, they haven’t been able to give us a lot of information, the next 48 to 72 hours will be very critical in determining the outcome.”
Sanderson said the family is currently raising funds for Lily’s hospital treatment, as well as for upcoming funeral costs. A campaign page on GoFundMe has so far raised over $21,000 in less than 24 hours.
“We would like to thank the first responders, medical personel [sic], policemen and firefighters who risked their own lives to save this sweet baby,” stated the GoFundMe page.
Officials say that the seven police officers and firefighters who were hospitalized have since been treated and released.
You can see an interview with police officials below: