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Utah family rescued from icy river by bystanders

Three children were pulled from a submerged car in the Logan River in Utah. A 4-year old boy and 9-year old girl were revived by passers-by.

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A Honda skidded off the road into the Logan River in Utah Saturday Dec. 31, 2011. Rescuers saved three children trapped in the car.

(AP Photo/Chris Willden)

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Former police officer Chris Willden didn't hesitate when he realized children were trapped in an upside down car in an icy Utah river. He pulled his handgun, pushed it up against the submerged windows and shot out the glass.

Then he reached inside.

"I was trying to grab arms, but I couldn't feel anything," Willden said. "I'm thinking ... 'What are we going to do?'"

He turned to see up to eight other passers-by had scrambled down the 10-foot embankment to help after coming upon the accident along U.S. 89 in Logan Canyon on Saturday afternoon.

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The driver, Roger Andersen, 46, of Logan, had lost control of the car as he tried to brake while heading northbound in slippery conditions. Andersen was able to free himself, but his 9-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son were trapped along with a second 9-year-old girl.

Highway Patrol Lt. Steve Winward said that after shooting out a window, the rescuers helped turn the Honda Accord upright in the Logan River and rescue all three trapped children.

"(The driver) was panicked, doing everything he could to get in through the doors, but they wouldn't budge," said Willden, who had jumped into the water with his own father.

"I remember thinking to myself, 'You're going to see some dead kids, get ready.' I've got three of my own and it was going to be (an awful) start to the New Year."

Willden said he tried unsuccessfully to open windows and doors. He then used his firearm just as he had done in training for his current job as a bodyguard and Department of Defense contractor.

One of the girls had found an air pocket and was breathing fine but was trapped in her seat belt. Willden cut it with a pocket knife and pulled her from the rear passenger window.

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