County Sheriff Cowboys-up to Save Motorist Stranded in River

First posted on ksl.com

JUNCTION, Piute County, Utah – Piute County Sheriff Marty Gleave had to improvise when he responded to a man stuck on top of his car in a rushing river Saturday morning. When it appeared a swift-water rescue team might not be there in time, Gleave turned to the next best thing: his trusty lasso.

Gleave said a man was driving along Highway 89 around 11:30 p.m. Friday when he saw an elk in the road near mile marker 152. The man swerved to avoid the elk and his car rolled into the Sevier River.

Gleave said the car floated down the river for about 100 yards before getting lodged against a rock. He was able to climb on top of the car, but had no way to call for help.

Other drivers saw the man and called for help shortly before 7:00 a.m. Saturday. Gleave said they called Garfield County officials for assistance.

“There was a swift water team coming out of Garfield County. We weren’t sure how long they were going to be and how long the car would be able to stay where it was,” Gleave said.

He said passing drivers stopped and threw out a strap to try to help the man. He remembered the lasso that he keeps in his truck.

“I had some ropes in the back of my truck and I got one of those and went out and throwed it around him,” he said. “We snugged it up tight under his arms and had him hang onto it and then we were able to pull him through the water to get him to the bank.”

Gleave said the man was hypothermic, but did not appear to have any serious injuries. He said the agency is used to finding creative ways to solve problems.

“Most of the time we go on a call here, we have to improvise because we’re so short-handed and so rural that sometimes you make do with what you got,” he said.