Officials at Mount Rainier National Park today released this image and recap of an accident on June 5.
That day, an SUV driven by park visitor Gerald Goit of Seattle went off the Nisqually-Paradise Road south of Longmire and went down a 40-foot embankment, landing upside down in the Nisqually River.
Goit was uninjured but was trapped by his seat belt as water rushed into the partially submerged vehicle. The water temperature of the glacial-fed river was in the high 40s and low 50s and Goit was becoming hypothermic.
Six to eight motorists who had stopped and entered the river tried unsuccessfully to help get him out of his SUV. Park rangers Peter Maggio and Paul Harrington arrived on scene about three minutes after the car went into the river.
Maggio donned rescue gear, including a dry suit and safety line, and entered the water to assist the motorists who were attempting to free Goit. From the back of the vehicle, Maggio was able to see Goit struggling to keep his head above water. With the assistance of rangers on shore, Maggio secured a line to the back of the vehicle in order to stabilize it. Water flow into the vehicle increased, though, increasing the threat to Goit of drowning.
Maggio decided he needed to take immediate action and climbed through the broken back window of the vehicle and up to where Goit was trapped. After several attempts, he was able to reach and cut Goit’s seat belt, thus freeing him, the news release said.
Maggio, with the assistance of the other motorists in the water, were able to remove Goit from the vehicle and get him to shore. While Goit was being treated for hypothermia, rangers coordinated the landing of a helicopter that was in the area for another in-park search and rescue effort. Goit was flown to the park’s helibase, where he was transferred to a waiting ambulance.
He made a full recovery and was released from the hospital that night.