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Stranger Rescues Children from Drowning with Help from Carry Gun

by Richard Nance   |  January 4th, 2012 10

Utah accidentOver the weekend in Logan, Utah, Roger Anderson was driving his two children and another child along a windy road en route to a ski resort. It was a road he’d driven countless times, but this time was different. When Anderson sensed that the road was slick, he tapped the brakes. That’s all it took to send the car careening out of control. The car veered into an icy river and overturned.

“Within a second, the entire cabin of the vehicle was full of water,” Anderson told ABC News. When he couldn’t immediately free the children from their seatbelts, he surfaced for air. That’s when he realized he wasn’t alone. In fact, there were at least half a dozen men standing on the river bank asking if anyone else was in the car. When he yelled that there were children trapped in the car, several men entered the icy water without hesitation.

One of the first men to help was Chris Willden, a former police officer who was carrying a pistol. After shooting out one of the car’s windows, he reached inside but could not find any of the children.

“I was trying to grab arms, but I couldn’t feel anything,” said Willden. Being a father of three, Willden was determined to rescue the children. When he realized that one of the girls was trapped by her seatbelt, he cut it with a pocketknife and pulled her from a window. Soon after, the other children were on the riverbank as well. Anderson’s two children had to be revived by rescuers, who performed CPR. Fortunately, the children were said to be doing well afterward.

At a news conference, Anderson said, “I was amazed at the people and the readiness of people to jump in and help. Without hesitation, they just did what they had to do … And that … for our family, made all the difference.”

Obviously, this heart-warming story could have quite easily had a very tragic outcome. There are so many great learning points here — from driving safely to making sound decisions under extreme stress, to having the right tool for the job — in this case, Willden being armed with a pistol and a knife.

But perhaps the most important factor that contributed to the favorable outcome was the willingness of several strangers to put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of three helpless children who desperately needed them.

What other lessons can we learn from this incident?

  • CJR

    I need to understand how he shot out the window. As I understand it, the car was upside down and filled with water. I am assuming that means that he could not see the kids, so how could he shoot the window without risk of shooting one of the kids?

    • brandon

      If he shot right at the edge angled steeply up to the roof that would have minimized the risks pretty well.

  • ESP

    I agree very stupid if i say so myself

    • Mark Guest

      You might have a different view if it was one of your loved ones drowning in front of you !!

  • ant

    Im sure he aimed away from the kids. Most of the time kids r in the back seat

  • Dave Hicks

    glad it worked out
    but man what would the headline have been if he had killed a kid
    MADMAN SHOOTS CHILD IN CAR? I would think a solid strike to the
    glass with the same handgun would have been plenty to break the glass

    again, glad it worked out and everybody made it out fine

  • Bob

    According to his statement in the news, he held the muzzle against the glass angled obliquely toward the roof of the car. He was certain that the line would eliminate hitting anybody; but, was reasonably sure that projectile, muzzle blast against water pressure would shatter the glass. There was no other way to open or break the window due to the time restraints and orientation of the car. A good call fortunately!

  • Snowmanspanky

    He said the car was upside down at the time and when he fired he said he knew it would just travel into the roof and just a few inches.

  • Mark Guest

    Check out the television show Myth Busters about trying to get out of a car trapped in the water. All but impossible to break the glass or kick it out. Theirs was performed in a pool under controlled conditions and the first couple of times he panicked and would have died. The guy risked his own life and injury and the kids would have definetely perished otherwise. Great call using the weapon, he should be put in for a commendation.

  • tileslayer

    thank god and the fast action of brave men for these childrens survival…unfortunately we have another phenomenon in this country where wannabe talking heads, prefer to debuke and punish the actions of those who choose to help based on what could have happened ..rather than celebrate the actual outcome ???
    thankfully!! the example of the" liberal press" has not poisoned all against involving themselves… just so that they might be critical of the actions of those that do…one thing remains clear "inaction" would certainly have resulted in the deaths of those children

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