Crews search icy Utah river for car, girl |

Crews search icy Utah river for car, girl

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

SALT LAKE CITY ” Crews on Saturday used sonar to search the bottom of the Colorado River for a car and a 5-year-old girl that disappeared in the icy water south of Moab.

The car, with a Colorado family inside, went off the road and plunged down a 60-foot canyon and fell into the river Friday afternoon.

The driver, Evelyn M. Maestas, 60, of Mancos, Colo., and her adopted daughter, Tori, 11, were able to escape through a broken window and get out of the river, highway officials said. They told authorities they saw Maestas’ granddaughter, 5-year-old Danica, also of Mancos, Colo., still inside the Nissan as it sank.

The search was suspended at sundown Saturday. State Trooper Todd Johnson said authorities would determine how to proceed Sunday morning.

Crews started searching for the car and the girl on Friday. They resumed early Saturday, walking the river’s shoreline and using the sonar technology, Sgt. Jeff Nigbur, a Utah Highway Patrol spokesman, told The Associated Press. The sonar, attached to a boat on the surface, provides underwater images of the river bottom.

By Saturday afternoon the sonar crew had covered about mile of the murky river. One of the problems is that the river bottom is strewn with large boulders, Nigbur said.

“We’re having a hard time looking through all the nooks and crannies,” Nigbur said Saturday afternoon. “The Colorado River is also very dirty and you can’t see a thing.”

Crews also don’t know how much air the car had in it ” which would allow it to move farther down the river ” or if it sank quickly, he said.

“We’re looking everywhere we can,” Nigbur said.

Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Darrel Mecham said Maestas and the 11-year-old girl suffered from hypothermia and were taken to the hospital after Friday’s crash. Their condition was not immediately available Saturday afternoon.

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