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Rescuers recall 'distinct voice' that spurred them to rescue trapped toddler

'We know there was some other help there,' officer said

Published: Sunday, March 8 2015 1:45 p.m. MDT

Spanish Fork police officers and firefighters stand at the location of a fatal car accident where they helped rescue a child in Spanish Fork Sunday, March 8, 2015. The officers said they heard a voice that helped spur them to overturn a vehicle in the Spanish Fork River and rescue a trapped 18-month-old girl on Saturday.

Chelsey Allder, Deseret News

SPANISH FORK — Four Spanish Fork police officers all said they heard it.

"We've gotten together and just talkin' about it, and all four of us can swear that we heard somebody inside the car saying, 'Help,'" officer Jared Warner recalled Sunday.

But when they flipped the vehicle resting on its hood in the Spanish Fork River onto its side Saturday, they discovered there was no one inside able to speak.

"The only people in there were the deceased mother and the child," said officer Bryan Dewitt.

"We're not exactly sure where that voice came from," Warner told the Deseret News.

But because of the actions of those officers and several Spanish Fork firefighters, 18-month-old Lily was rescued. She remained at Primary Children's Hospital Sunday in critical condition but was reported to be stable.

Police believe Lily was upside down, strapped in her car seat for up to 14 hours. Her mother, Lynn Jennifer "Jenny" Groesbeck, was killed in the crash.

Sunday, flowers and a wreath were placed on a dirt pile near the embankment where Groesbeck is believed to have vaulted off of and into the river. Investigators painted marks next to tire tracks and scuff marks on the bridge that spans the river, indicating that at least two tires went over the curb and traveled 30 to 50 feet before hitting the incline of the cement barrier, likely launching the vehicle into the river.

Groesbeck, 25, was driving home to Springville from Salem, where she had been visiting her parents. She was killed about 10:30 p.m. Friday when her car went off the road where Arrowhead Trail connects with Main Street. What caused the car to go off the road was still under investigation Sunday. Because of where the vehicle landed, it was difficult for anyone to see the wreck from the street above.

Fourteen hours later, about 12:30 p.m. Saturday, a fisherman spotted the vehicle and called police.

Dewitt was one of the first officers to arrive. The incident was originally reported as a possible abandoned vehicle in the river. But as he got closer, he said he could see the mother inside. Three more officers arrived almost simultaneously at the river.

And that's when they heard a voice.

"We were down on the car and a distinct voice says, 'Help me, help me,'" Dewitt recalled.

"It wasn't just something that was just in our heads. To me it was plain as day cause I remember hearing a voice," officer Tyler Beddoes said. "I think it was Dewitt who said, 'We're trying. We're trying our best to get in there.'

"How do you explain that? I don't know," he said, adding that the voice didn't sound like a child.

"It was a positive boost for every one of us because I think it pushed us to go harder a little longer. I don't think that any one of us had intended on flipping a car over that day," Beddoes said. "We know there was some other help there, getting us where we needed to be."

When the officers flipped the car onto its side, that's when they realized that a child was still inside.

"I was terrified there was a little baby," Dewitt said. "My initial instinct was that she was dead. When we were able to cut her out, pass her out, the first thing I saw was her eyes fluttering. So it was kind of a positive sign of life for me, at least. But knew she wasn't out of harm's way, either."

After Dewitt discovered the child, firefighters Paul Taultomadakis and Lee Mecham jumped on top of the vehicle.

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