A baby that survived nearly 14 hours in a car that crashed into a frigid Utah river this weekend was released from a hospital Wednesday, after a remarkable recovery that the child’s father called a "miracle."
Deven Trafny, 34, teared up as he described visiting his daughter, Lily Groesbeck, at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City Sunday, a day after rescuers pulled the child from the upside-down Dodge partially submerged in the Spanish Fork River.
Lily’s mother, 25-year-old Lynn Jennifer Groesbeck, did not survive the crash.
The 18-month-old child was released from the hospital into the custody of her mother’s relatives at 4:10 local time (6:10 p.m. ET), NBC station KSL reported.
Spanish Fork police believe Groesbeck’s car struck a cement barrier on a bridge at around 10:30 p.m. Friday and plunged into the river, where it remained upside down until a fisherman spotted the wreck at around 12:20 p.m. Saturday and called 911.
Lily was found suspended in a car seat locked in place in the rear passenger side vehicle, and she was airlifted to the hospital in critical condition. He mother was dead in the driver’s seat.
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By Wednesday, the toddler was singing nursery rhymes, Trafny said. "Except for a few bruises, she has made a remarkable recovery," he said.
"I'm just really blessed and I'm glad to have my daughter here with me. I’m overwhelmed with joy right now," he said. "She's just a miracle to me."
The three firefighters and two police officers who rushed into the river, tipped the car on its side and rescued the baby all said they heard an adult voice from inside the car saying, "Help me, help me" — but the driver is believed to have been killed on impact, Spanish Fork Police Lt. Matt Johnson said.
There were no skid marks or any evidence of a mechanical failure before the car struck cement barrier and went into the river, Johnson said.
Investigators found a small bag of what is believed to be marijuana, a bottle of pills believed to be the painkiller tramadol, and an unused syringe in its original packaging inside a purse in the wrecked car, Johnson said. He cautioned that doesn't mean the items played a role in the crash. The items were sent off for testing. Toxicology reports that could tell whether any drugs were involved could take five to eight weeks.
"I just want to stress that because these items were found in the vehicle that does not mean that they were the contributing factor to the accident, so we’re not jumping to any conclusions at this point," Johnson said. A phone number for Groesbeck’s family could not immediately be found Wednesday night.
Trafny, a drywaller, was working on a job in Montana when the crash occurred, NBC station KSL reported. He was still coming to grips Wednesday with the fact that Groesbeck is dead.
"She was the love of my life, I'm going to miss her a lot," he said. "I still have to deal with that."
— Phil Helsel