Family Grieves After Teen Dies, Toddler Saved In Submerged Car Crash

Aug 11, 2020, 9:32 AM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Family members on Monday were remembering a 15-year-old boy who died after being submerged in a car in the Jordan Surplus Canal.

Gerald Bates said his son, Justin, passed away at the hospital from injuries suffered during the accident Saturday night near Indiana Avenue and Delong Street.

“He’s greatly loved and he will be missed for sure,” Bates said during an interview Monday evening. “He was the one that never liked going out and getting in trouble. He stayed at home. He was a really good soul—an old soul.”

According to Salt Lake City Police investigators, the woman who was driving lost control and the vehicle landed upside down in the canal.

Four children—ages 2, 15, 16 and 17—were in the car at the time and the two youngest became trapped.

“Time is of the essence in a situation like this,” said officer Miles Knapp, who took part in the rescue. “I took my duty belt off and my vest and jumped in to see how I could help out.”

Knapp said another officer told him a 2-year-old was stuck inside.

“The water was murky and I tried to go under and see if I could find a way into the car, but I couldn’t,” Knapp said. “Eventually a water rescue firefighter came with his underwater breathing gear and was able to get in and get the little girl out.”

Body camera footage released by Salt Lake City Police Department Monday documented the rescue.

“It was get the job done and make sure we do it to the best of our abilities and do it right, help try and save a life,” Knapp said.

Bates said the group had apparently been going to check out street race cars in the area when the crash took place.

“Things happen in life,” Bates said. “I lost my son but (the driver) was given back her life with her daughter.”

Bates said he was extremely grateful for the efforts of police and firefighters for doing what they could to save lives.

The family said it set up the Justin Bates Memorial at America First Credit Union to help with expenses.

“I lost Justin but I was blessed I didn’t lose another,” Bates said. “Grab your kids and cherish the moment.”

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Family Grieves After Teen Dies, Toddler Saved In Submerged Car Crash