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Retired park ranger saves young boy from truck submerged in reservoir

Yellowstone National Park Ranger vehicle
(Image credit: BirdImages)

A retired park ranger has been hailed as a hero after rescuing a nine-year-old boy from a truck submerged in a reservoir.

As WKYT (opens in new tab) reports, the boy was visiting Smith and Morehouse Reservoir in Utah with his family on Monday when the accident happened. The youngster, named Paxton, was in the truck with two siblings while older members of the family unloaded kayaks for a day on the water.

"We’re not sure what happened at that point. The truck started to roll down. They tried to get the kids out of the car," said Paxton’s aunt, Kelley Carpenter. Paxton's brother and sister, aged two and nine, managed to escape, but he was stuck.

Retired part ranger Joe Donnell, who was kayaking nearby, realized that the boy was in trouble and dived down to save him. According to Carpenter, he had to dive down seven times before he was able to grab Paxton's clothing and free him after 10 minutes underwater.

Making progress

Paxton was airlifted to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, where he is being treated in the intensive care unit.

"The doctors say that he is doing well and is able to respond to some of their tasks," said Carpenter. "They did not think that he would survive. Every time I spoke to him, he responded to me, whether that be squeezing my hand, shaking his head 'yes'."

The family hope that Paxton will be able to reunite with Donnell when the youngster has recovered.

Cat Ellis
Editor

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).