Couple treated for hypothermia after car falls into river in Garfield Co.

Posted at 10:17 PM, Sep 29, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-30 00:17:25-04

GARFIELD COUNTY, Utah -- Search and rescue crews say an Italian couple is lucky to be alive after their car fell through a washed-out road and got carried downstream Saturday night.

Sussana Dursi and Roberto Bellocci are still recovering from the incident. They were traveling to Kodachrome Basin State Park when the road crossing the Paria River swept their car away.

Garfield County Sheriff’s Deputy Clint Pearson got the call from his daughter after dark that there was a hole in the road, but he didn’t expect to find a car in the river.

“Their car fell through. It went down through where there should have been dirt -- then was tumbled and jostled along until it came to rest right down here,” Pearson said.

Pearson said it’s unbelievable the couple was able to get out of the car without major injury. But they were stuck in the middle of the river.

Tropic Volunteer Technical Rescue was able to bring them safety.

“We knew they were going to be hypothermic just because of what we understood they’d been through so far,” said team member Moyle Johnson. “They appeared to be doing quite well.”

Johnson said it took about 45 minutes to throw a line and get a boat to transport Dursi and Bellocci to safety.

They were taken to an area hospital and treated for hypothermia. Johnson said the rescue was challenging because of the changing conditions with some of the toughest conditions he’s seen.

“It was extremely emotional,” Johnson said. “That’s what we were worried about. We wanted to keep control of the situation and keep them under control.”

There was a 14-foot section of road washed out during the flooding.

Road crews temporarily filled it with dirt, but by Monday afternoon it had already started to erode again.

“There are holes already, back where the road is gone,” Pearson said. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take Kane County to fix it.”

The road is heavily traveled by day, being the main access for Kodachrome Basin State Park. The park and the road remain closed indefinitely.