Family recounts rescue from flash flood on US Highway 6

Jul 7, 2022, 11:03 PM | Updated: Jul 8, 2022, 11:25 am
Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook...

EMERY COUNTY, Utah — A Salt Lake City family is recounting the terrifying moments a flash flood swept their SUV off U.S. Highway 6 on Wednesday, leaving them trapped as the waters carried the vehicle down a ditch.

Firefighters and good Samaritans found a creative way to rescue them, allowing the family to return home safe and share their story.

Sara Stevenson has dozens of pics and videos from her family’s 4th of July trip to Colorado with her husband, Weston Firmage, and their 9-year-old daughter, Zara Friedman. They visited Stevenson’s family’s condo in Purgatory, Colorado, and spent a week doing all kinds of fun activities.

As the three sat in their backyard Thursday evening, Stevenson scrolled through the photos on her phone of everyone hiking and swimming at a lake. They visited a hot springs and enjoyed a 4th of July fireworks show in Silverton, Colorado.

On Wednesday, they started the trip back home to Salt Lake City, stopping at the Wilson Arch and Hole in the Rock near Moab. About 45 minutes later, they made their way onto U.S. 6 near Green River.

A sudden downpour began to pelt the roadway, and the three were in a line of cars when they noticed that water began to crash across the highway. Driving behind a semi-truck, Weston said a wall of debris came up out of nowhere.

“The mud and water came up all over the car,” Stevenson recounted. They said the car stalled for about two seconds, and then the water began to carry their SUV away.

“Within 10 seconds we were in this ravine with water,” Firmage said. “It was a river,” Stevenson said. “Yeah, it was a river,” Firmage echoed. “It had turned into a river. Water was up to below the window level,” Stevenson continued.

Family trapped by flash flood rescued by Emery County volunteers

Mom jumped in the back with Zara, while dad stayed at the wheel and tried to prevent the SUV from flipping over as it was tossed about in the water. Stevenson said the vehicle was spinning every which way, as they floated backward toward where they were driving from.

“Weston was trying to steer it,” Stevenson explained. “Steer it like a boat,” Zara added.

The trio guessed they floated a mile, worried the car would flip. They were able to call 911 through the car, and stayed on the phone with dispatch during the 11-minute impromptu rafting trip.

Stevenson said she was freaking out and frantic on the phone with 911.

“I was like on a level 10,” She said. “Like, we’re going to die, we’re going to…like how do we get out of this?”

Finally, the SUV ship stopped long enough for a truck driver to jump in and back up his flatbed trailer to the SUV, while firefighters stripped down to t-shirts, shorts and socks so they could safely pull the three out through the windows.

Video from the rescue shows firefighters carrying Zara up the flatbed to safety. Stevenson follows, walking quickly away from the flood. Lastly, Firmage makes his way to dry ground, patting a firefighter on the back in thanks as he steps down to safety.

“We’re on land!” Stevenson thought to herself. “We’re alive and safe.”

While mom and dad felt relief, they said Zara stayed cool and helped calm Stevenson down. A rescuer told KSL TV Zara thanked them politely as they carried her.

“She was the hero and stayed calm and cool and collected the whole time,” Firmage said, nudging his daughter.

“Basically, taking care of her,” Zara responded playfully, looking at her mom.

All three of them broke out in laughter.

“That’s true,” Stevenson said, cracking up. “I was freaking out.”

They’re glad they can laugh about the experience and are grateful for the rescuers and truck driver, Joe Bruno, from Longwall West.

Surprisingly, the family’s SUV is in pretty good shape, and they’re hoping they can get it fixed.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Kevin Linford (Facebook)...
Andrew Adams

Additional sex charges filed against Utah businessman; prosecutors fear more victims possible

A man accused of sexually abusing multiple women at a party in Davis County last summer now faces new charges in Salt Lake County. 
1 day ago
(Jackson Grimm/KSL TV)...
Debbie Worthen

Avalanches are bigger, more dangerous than past seasons in Utah

Utah gets hundreds of avalanches every year, but this year, those numbers are higher, and the slides themselves are becoming bigger and more dangerous.
1 day ago
Logan Stefanich

Alpine School District exploring potential closure of 5 elementary schools

The doors of five elementary schools in Alpine School District may be closing for good at the end of the school year due to seismic concerns.
1 day ago
(FILE) Salt Lake City Police car responding to a scene....
Madison Swenson

Man arrested after stealing thousands of dollars in merchandise from SLC airport store

A 30-year-old man accused of stealing nearly $4,100 worth of merchandise from a store inside the Salt Lake City International Airport has been arrested.
1 day ago
(KSL TV)...
Madison Swenson

West Valley City home heavily damaged by fire

A West Valley City home suffered significant damage Tuesday after a fire broke out in the kitchen.
1 day ago
(Utah County Sheriff's Office K-9 Team/Facebook)...
Cary Schwanitz and Madison Swenson

Utah County Sheriff’s Office mourning loss of retired K-9

The Utah County Sheriff’s Office is honoring a retired K-9 who died Monday.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Stack of old laptops with dark background...
PC Laptops

Old Laptop Upgrades You Need to Try Before Throwing it Away

Get the most out of your investment. Try these old laptop upgrades before throwing it out to keep it running fast and efficient.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Close up of an offset printing machine during production...
Les Olson IT

Top 7 Reasons to Add a Production Printer to Your Business

Learn about the different digital production printers and how they can help your company save time and money.
vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
Family recounts rescue from flash flood on US Highway 6