Girl, age 5, found in sunk car at river’s bottom

After three days of searching, divers on Monday night found the body of a 5-year-old girl and the car she was riding in that plunged into the frigid Colorado River near Moab on Friday afternoon.

“We hope it brings the family some closure,” said Utah Highway Patrol trooper Cameron Roden.

Driver Evelyn Maestas of Mancos and her daughter, Tori, 11, were able to escape the car and swim to safety after the car went down a 60-foot embankment. But the two told authorities they watched the car sink with Maestas’ granddaughter, Danica, inside.

Family members have been holding vigil at the site since the accident, which occurred about 28 miles northeast of Moab on Utah Highway 128.

Grand County authorities used sonar to scour the bottom of the murky, rocky river. Divers found the vehicle farther downstream than anticipated after expanding their search, Roden said. The girl was found inside the vehicle, but out of her seatbelt.

Roden said he can’t recall any other fatalities in the area in his 18 months as a spokesman for Grand County. He said there is no guardrail at the site.

Authorities had planned to use specialized equipment, including a large magnet to find and pull the vehicle from the water, but divers found the wreckage about 5 p.m., Roden said.


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