Two Strangers Save Family Of Three In 'Miracle' Rescue On Colorado River

June 12, 2024

Today's good news story comes from Grand County, Utah.

Sometimes, saving lives is about being in the right place at the right time. Last Thursday, two men from Moab exemplified this when they happened to be on the Colorado River and rescued a family of three from drowning.

hero rescue
Daniel Wright / Grand County Sheriff's Search and Rescue

On June 6, a 40-year-old man and his two sons, aged 8 and 10, were navigating whitewater upstream from a popular beach near Mile Marker 6 on Highway 128 when their inflatable kayak flipped. Witnessing the accident from the beach, Gaar Lausman immediately sprang into action. He jumped onto his paddleboard and intercepted the two struggling boys.

"I ended up seeing the kids floating downstream with one of the kids kind of facing down, struggling," said Eric Odenthal, who witnessed the incident from shore.

The 10-year-old was wearing a belt-pack personal flotation device (PFD) that had inflated with a CO2 cartridge, flipping him face down in the water. The 8-year-old’s PFD was too large, failing to keep his head above water. Lausman managed to get both boys onto his paddleboard but was unable to reach their father, who was being swept away by the current.

At that critical moment, Daniel Wright was traveling upstream on his jet ski. Grand County search and rescue officials said Wright had inadvertently passed "within a few feet" of the fallen boater but didn't notice because the man was almost completely submerged and virtually unnoticeable because of the substantial amount of high-water debris.

Lausman signaled to Wright, directing him to the father.

"It was literally a miracle. This guy showed up and started circling," Odenthal told KSL-TV.

Wright skillfully maneuvered his jet ski and reached the man just as he went underwater again, raising his hand in desperation. Odenthal captured a photo of the dramatic rescue.

The father, who had lost his PFD when the kayak capsized, was safely transported to shore along with his sons. The family declined offers for an ambulance, grateful for their fortunate rescue.

Grand County Emergency Services expressed profound gratitude to Gaar Lausman and Daniel Wright for their life-saving actions.

"Because of you, that family gets to go home," they stated.

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