Utah Teen Dies After Reportedly Diving Into Canal To Save Toddler from Car Wreck


A 15-year-old from Utah died from his injuries after he tried to save a toddler in a car accident on the evening of Aug. 8.

Justin Bates and a 2-year-old were trapped in a car that flipped into the Jordan River canal in Salt Lake City, Utah, KSTU-TV reported.

Justin’s uncle said the teen had made it out of the car safely but went back into the water to try to save the little girl.

“He was good-hearted. He’d help people that needed help,” Brian Bates said.

“He died the person he was — someone who would jump in and try to do something for somebody else.”

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The 20-year-old driver and two other juveniles were able to escape from the vehicle before emergency crews arrived.

Body camera footage shows the moment when officers with the Salt Lake City Police Department arrived on the scene and jumped into the water to rescue the kids trapped in the submerged car.

“With no thought to personal safety, officers immediately stripped their gear and attempted a daring rescue of these two children,” Chief Mike Brown said in a statement.

“It was dark. The water was cold. But these officers did not hesitate to come to the aid and work to save lives. I am proud of them.”

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The Salt Lake City Fire Department also arrived on scene and was able to break into the vehicle to retrieve the children.

“The rescue of these two children illustrates the dedication of Salt Lake City’s public safety employees. The immediate action of both SLCPD and SLCFD brought both children out of the water and to awaiting medical care,” Fire Chief Karl Lieb said in a statement.

“Anything less would not have given these kids even a chance of survival. This is what we do. And I am exceedingly proud of our team’s commitment to preserving life — even at great risk to our own.”

Justin and the 2-year-old were taken to Primary Children’s Hospital in critical condition. Sadly, Justin died from his injuries Monday morning.

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It is unlikely the driver of the vehicle will face criminal charges, though investigators believe speed was the cause of the crash.

Justin’s family has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for his funeral costs.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith