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Man retrieves a softball — and saves a life

Published: Monday, Sept. 9 2013 6:15 p.m. MDT

Bart Griffiths found a man in a motorized wheelchair stuck in a ditch Wednesday. Griffiths was at a softball game when he went to retrieve a ball. He noticed something gray out of the corner of his eye. He found 62-year-old Ernest Vigil face down in the water. Vigil was treated and released. He was later cited for intoxication.

Logan Police Department

LOGAN — A Logan man was enjoying a game of softball at the Willow Park Sports Complex when someone hit a ball out of the park.

He went after the ball, which led him to someone who was fighting to stay alive in an irrigation ditch.

“It was a fluke that the home run was hit. It was a fluke that I was out here chasing it,” said Bart Griffiths, field supervisor for the Logan Parks and Recreation Department.

Griffiths said after he picked up the ball during Wednesday’s game, he was walking back in to the complex and noticed something gray sticking up. At first, he thought somebody had dumped garbage in the ditch.

“When I got closer, I thought it was a motorized wheelchair,” he said. “I saw a body that was … face down in the water, but from the waist up. The legs were still sticking out.”

At first, Griffiths said it was like a scene from a TV show. He didn’t know how long the person had been in the water, and he believed the person likely was dead.

“I jumped in there, lifted him up just to get his face out of the water, and then I yelled at him, ‘Are you OK?’ he said. “And I heard, ‘I’m dying.’”

Griffiths said he was happy to hear the man speak because that meant he was alive. He lifted him out of the water and called 911.

“He was kind of doing push-up breathing, and then when I got to him, he didn’t have any energy left to do it,” he said.

Logan police say 62-year-old Ernest Vigil was treated and then cited for intoxication.

But police say Griffiths’ presence may have saved the man's life. Griffiths says he was just at the right place at the right time.

“I didn’t chase any other balls that night out here,” he said.

Email: manderson@deseretnews.com

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