On 12 January 2012 in Santa Barbara County, California, an 18-wheel truck and a car collided on a bridge. The truck fell from the bridge; the driver of the truck died. The car was mangled. Tow-truck driver Brian Gomez witnessed the horrific crash. He said about the car, “It didn’t look like anything, just a bundle of metal.” He called 911 and reported the crash but said that there were no survivors. When he approached the car, however, he heard a voice screaming for help. He called 911 again and reported that there were survivors. Trapped in the car, which teetered on the side of the bridge, were 36-year-old first-grade teacher Kelli Lynn Groves and her two daughters. Ms. Groves pleaded with him, “Get us out of here. My babies are in here. My kids are my life.” He reassured her that help was on the way; he had no way to get anyone out of the wreckage. The fire department responded, and they used ropes and the tow truck winch to help secure the car and try to keep it from falling off the bridge, but a fire captain said, “We need a heavy-duty forklift to secure that vehicle, but ours is 45 minutes away.” Just happening to pass by were some Navy Seabees and a heavy-duty forklift. The forklift kept the car from falling into the ravine, and first 10-year-old Sage was rescued and then 10-week-old Mylo and finally Ms. Groves. A Seabee said, “Put us in any type of situation, and we are trained to adapt and overcome.” The rescue took two hours and 21 minutes. Santa Barbara County firefighter Greg Nuckols talked to Ms. Groves throughout the ordeal and removed her children from the car, climbing across a dangerous area in order to do so. Ms. Groves said that Mr. Nuckols “was my rock in the middle of all this. It was someone that I could communicate with directly. As he would walk away, I would find myself saying, ‘Where’s Greg? Where’s Greg?’ He just reminded me of what I needed to do, and that was to save my girls.” The jaws of life were needed to get the victims out of the car. Ms. Groves said, “You can’t beat the fire department in Santa Barbara County. They’re the top. I said, ‘If you don’t know that you have the best fire department in California, then watch the news tonight and you’re going to see it.’ They did an excellent job, and it was great having Seabees there.” During a May 2012 appearance on The Today Show, Ms. Groves told host Matt Lauer, “It’s still surreal to me that we’re sitting here and that was us in that car. It was terror at first, and then it fades to relief, huge amount of relief and gratitude. It’s hard to watch, but at the same time it really happened. [It was] not all of our times, all three of us. It’s just a miracle.” Ms. Groves was injured, but conscious. She said, “I remember each step of the way and the terror of looking down and realizing how high we were and what fate could lie ahead of us. I thought for a minute maybe [Sage] was thrown out, and all I saw was a small patch of her hair smashed through the metal and the debris. I started tapping her and calling out her name and she wouldn’t answer and wasn’t moving. I had no idea what shape the rest of her body was in. All I could see was that little circle of her head.” All survived. Mylo had only a scratch.
For Further Information: “Navy Seabees Help Rescue Family Dangling in Car Over Bridge.” KSEE NEWS (Fresno, California). 17 January 2012 <http://www.ksee24.com/news/video/Navy-Seabees-Help-Rescue-Family-Dangling-in-Car-Over-Bridge-137544453.html>.
For Further Information: Scott Stump, “Mom, daughters reunite with rescuers who saved them from dangling car.” MSNBC.MSN. 8 May 2012 <http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/47336315/ns/today-good_news/#.T60WmJ9YvUN>.
For Further Information: Penny Arévalo, “The Untold Story of a Crash that Made Headlines Around the World.” Patch (San Juan Capistrano, California). 28 February 2012 http://sanjuancapistrano.patch.com/articles/the-untold-story-of-the-crash-that-made-headlines-around-the-world>.
For Further Information: “Kelli Groves And Her Daughters Reunite With The Rescuers Who Saved Them From Dangling Car.” Huffington Post. 11 May 2012 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/11/kelli-groves_n_1509481.html?ref=good-news>.
For Further Information: “Fearless.” Imgur. 17 August 2013
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