Swiftwater team rescues Italian couple from river after road collapse

A car carrying the two Italian visitors sits upturned on the bank of the Paria River, Kodachrome Basin State Park, Garfield County, Utah, Sept. 27, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Garfield County Sheriff's Office, St. George News| Photo courtesy of Garfield County Sheriff's Office, St. George News

KODACHROME — A car carrying two Italian campers plunged into the Paria River in Kodachrome Basin State Park Saturday after the road they were driving on collapsed.

The car carrying the two Italian visitors sits upturned on the bank of the Paria River on Sept. 28, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Garfield County Sheriff's Office, St. George News
The car carrying the two Italian visitors sits upturned on the bank of the Paria River at Kodachrome Basin State Park, Garfield County, Utah, Sept. 27, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

According to a press release from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, Sussana Dursi, 47, and Roberto Bellocci, 62, both from Italy,  were returning to their campsite at Kodachrome Basin State Park at approximately 9 p.m. Saturday.

They crossed the bridge that spans the Paria River, the release said. After crossing the bridge where it meets the road the ground beneath it suddenly gave way plunging their car into the river.  The ground under the black top had been eroded away due to heavy flooding.

Their car was tossed and pummeled approximately 150 yards downstream where it finally came to a stop upside down in the middle of the river.  Dursi and Bellocci were able to escape soaking wet and covered in mud through the broken back window and climb on top of the upturned car.

Shortly after, another vehicle — driven by Garfield County Deputy Clint Pearson’s daughter traveling out of the same area — passed over the road around the gaping hole and reported it to her father, not knowing that a car had fallen into the river.

The damage sustained bridge crossing the Paria River causing the car to fall |  Photo courtesy of Garfield County Sheriff's Office, St. George News
The damage sustained to the bridge crossing the Paria River in Kodachrome Basin State Park, causing the car to fall, Garfield County, Utah, Sept. 27, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Pearson quickly came to investigate and assess the damage.  As he exited his vehicle he heard faint cries for help over the noise of the rushing water.  With his spotlight he was able to locate the position of the couple in the darkness.

By using a swiftwater craft, the Garfield County Search and Rescue swiftwater team was able to navigate to the car and rescue the couple.  Both individuals suffered extreme hypothermia and were transported to Garfield Memorial Hospital where they are expected to make a full recovery.

Kane County Sheriff, Lamount Smith, and Garfield County Sheriff, Danny Perkins, said they thanked the Garfield County  Search and Rescue, the Garfield and Kane County Sheriff’s deputies and the Garfield and Kane County road crews.

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1 Comment

  • Beerbelly September 29, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Thank you SAR for your hard work and dedication to saving lives!

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