POWELL (WNE) — An off-duty Park County Sheriff’s deputy jumped into action to rescue a juvenile from an irrigation canal on Sunday.
The juvenile and another youth had crashed their UTV into a lateral canal shortly after 11 a.m., not far from the intersection of Road 11 and U.S. Highway 14-A west of Powell.
“The vehicle had been traveling eastbound on the canal road at a rate of speed too high to safely complete a right-hand turn,” Charla Baugher Torczon, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said in a Thursday news release.
The off-road vehicle went into the lateral — which is smaller than the nearby Garland Canal — and rolled over. The UTV came to a rest on its top, with the entire cab underwater, Torczon said. The juvenile driver of the vehicle was able to make it safely to shore on their own, but the juvenile passenger was unable to get out.
An off-duty deputy saw a passerby signaling for help and found the passenger still seat-belted into the submerged UTV, “trapped with just their mouth and nose above water,” Torczon said. The deputy then jumped into the canal, went under the UTV to release the seatbelt and got the juvenile to shore, she said.
Park County Undersheriff Andy Varian later praised the officer’s actions in a department-wide email.
“This deputy’s decision to react quickly and save the juvenile from possibly drowning showed outstanding courage and decisiveness,” Varian wrote.