Dateline | June 28, 2013
>> reporter: the crushed bmw had been hanging off the bridge for about an hour when the time came to face facts. the rescue effort had become too dangerous to continue. one more cut, one more move to get near injured passengers may send the wreck with kelli groves and her daughters off the bridge to uncertain death.
>> it was hard for them to stop cutting. they were close, really close.
>> reporter: across the bridge, the cbs, navy engineers were a studien frustration. they had wanted to help all along. but out of respect for civilian officers in charge, the young military men had not pushed too hard. now they decided a more forceful approach was in matter. the last minute addition they made to the convoy, it was a giant forklift. the cbs believed it could be the key to the rescue. they just had to make that clear to someone in charge.
>> so, i went to the, the chp officers, and i tried to -- make it to where he would be able to understand. and i have this extendible forklift.
>> what the chp and firefighters could not have known this forklift isn't your average home depot kind of forklift. no, this was more like a science fiction robot forklift. it telilts. bends. moves in every direction. it can lift 11,000 pounds.
>> we got a description across. he was like, well, how long will it take it to get here. by the time i said it is right there. these guys, here comes the forklift.
>> i looked up the road on highway 101 . coming southbound in the lane is the versalift. everybody is calling it over.
>> reporter: would it really do what the navy men hoped it would, support the car? seemed like a good idea. but in this situation, anything could happen. they maneuvered the forklift to reach across the gap. just as they began to tuck it into the car, someone called a halt.
>> all i could do is look down and i see this metal fork coming under my feet. and hearing, whoa, whoa, her feet are there.
>> i said i will move my feet. it is going to hurt. i will move my feet.
>> reporter: it did hurt. remember kelly was injured too, her pelvis was broken. she could feel the bone grinding as she moved. then with kelli 's feet out of the way. the rudders of the forklift moved into place. suddenly this much was clear. if you could have invented exactly the right machine for this particular unimageable situation it would have been this tiltable, extendible forklift.
>> have you've ever seen it used in a situation anything remotely look that before?
>> no, sir. never.
>> i knew we turned a corner. you know. that was huge.
>> reporter: huge. the firemen started cutting open the car again, aggressively now because they could. and because they couldn't afford to lose any more time. kelly and her girls had been stuck in the wreck for an hour and a half. but now thanks to the forklift there was hope.
>> for me, i knew, that's a platform to work off of. i can go out on tu tho that. at laes east do something. put a harness on kelli . at that point it wasn't too long after that i remember seeing a big piece of metal beg taing taken out. i could see the sky up through it. and that's when they said we can see sage. i don't know what condition she is in.
>> reporter: and then carefully, very carefully, they lifted that precious cargo from the wreckage.
>> i watched sage being pulled out of the car. and put on the stretcher. and i asked -- is she alive? yes, she is a life.
>> reporter: how did she look as she cam oe out of there.
>> she was pale. and -- sunny was confused. and just looked exhausted.
>> reporter: but it wasn't over. and kelli knew that. kelli could see the mangled space where her daughter's body had been just seconds before. she noticed something.
>> i looked down and her doll that she brought on her trip was sitting, still left in the car. and i picked it up, handed it to one of the rescuers. i said she is going to need this.
>> reporter: sage was in critical condition . as the medics rushed the broken cheld o child off to the helicopter. kelli turned to baby milo. the sergeant was watching.
>> nobody knew at this time if the baby was alive or dead.
>> reporter: no movement from the car seat .
>> there wasn't any movement from the car seat .
>> reporter: it had been two hours since the crash. while the forklift supported the car, fire fighter paramedic, greg knuckles stepped on to the forks and scrambled over to the car to the baby's open window . he reached inside and saw kelli 's hand still after all that time, clutching the baby seat .
>> he said okay you need to let go of her. and my hands were stuck because for 2 1/2 hours of white knuckling this car