Idaho Rescue Teams Pull Couple From Truck Dangling Above Gorge

March 18, 2021Matt White
Photo courtesy St. Luke’s Health, Idaho State Patrol, and Chief Brandon Covey.

Photo courtesy St. Luke’s Health, Idaho State Patrol, and Chief Brandon Covey.

Highly trained mountain rescue paramedics from around southern Idaho leaped into trucks, cars, and even a helicopter to retrieve a couple — and their two dogs — from the cab of a pickup truck dangling from a highway bridge over a mountain canyon Monday. The man and woman inside, both in their 60s, were pinned by their own seatbelts and helpless to escape as their truck hung from a single safety chain above a 100-foot plunge.

After hitching a ride on a helicopter normally used for transporting critical patients, specially trained paramedics from the Twin Falls-based Magic Valley Special Operations and Rescue Team, or SORT, rappelled to the truck and brought both passengers and their dogs to safety.

[vimeo id=”524459300″ /]

“The truck was trying to pass somebody and they had bounced off one railing and went over the other side,” Brandon Covey, the fire chief of the Gooding City Rural Fire Department told Coffee or Die Magazine. “They were just dangling.”

Initially, Covey said, the 2004 four-door Ford F-350 — a truck that used-car databases list as weighing at least 6,000 pounds — hung like a pendulum over the Malad River gorge, 100 feet below and about 30 miles north of Twin Falls.

Photo courtesy of St. Luke’s Health, Idaho State Patrol, and Chief Brandon Covey.

According to Idaho State Police, one of its officers and a Gooding County sheriff’s deputy arrived within minutes of the crash and immediately secured the truck with towing chains from a passing 18-wheeler. The officers were also able to yell to the couple in the truck. The man, 67, and woman, 63, said they were alert and largely unhurt, as were their two Shih Tzu dogs. Police said the couple lives in Garden City, near Boise. Though both were secure in seatbelts, the man driving said the position of the belt was making it hard to breathe.

“He was being choked out by his seatbelt,” Covey said.

Photo courtesy of St. Luke’s Health, Idaho State Patrol, and Chief Brandon Covey.

But getting the couple and their dogs out would take more than just a few strong chains and heavy anchors. SORT teams from both Gooding and Twin Falls soon arrived and began setting up the complicated rope systems needed to lower paramedics to the cab. The Twin Falls team is one of the most active backcountry rescue squads in the West, with frequent high-angle rescues in the high canyons around the Snake River. A team spokesperson said the squad trains at least twice every month, and Monday’s rescue was its sixth callout of 2021.

Covey said Gooding’s SORT team is modeled on Magic Valley’s and just took over local search and rescue duties recently in its area from a volunteer organization. The bridge rescue represented that team’s very first real-world rescue.

Photo courtesy of St. Luke’s Health, Idaho State Patrol, and Chief Brandon Covey.

The Magic Valley team deploys so frequently that it has a standing agreement with Air St. Luke’s, a hospital-based aeromedical service. Jumping on the helicopter, said one official, gave the team “an ETA of five minutes rather than 40.”

Aiding the response was a lucky break of the Malad Gorge’s topography: Though the truck hung over a 100-foot drop, its cab was nearly within arm’s reach of the canyon’s top ledge, thanks to the gorge’s essentially vertical walls. Rather than pull the two occupants up and over the bridge’s railing — a tricky fight against angles, leverage, and gravity — rescuers were able to swing the couple, one at time, over to the ledge, where other rescuers waited to haul them to solid ground.

First, though, came the couple’s Shih Tzus, said Covey: “They put them in a duffel bag and got them out first.”

The male driver was transported to the hospital due to his breathing complaints, Covey said, while his female passenger did not require treatment. The dogs were delivered to the nearby home of a relative.

“It shows what all agencies can do working together,” said Chad Smith, field supervisor for the Magic Valley SORT. “It was a team effort.”

Read Next: World War II Aircraft Nails Perfect Ditching Near Space Force Base

Matt White
Matt White

Matt White is a former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. He was a pararescueman in the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard for eight years and has more than a decade of experience in daily and magazine journalism.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
dear jack mandaville
Dear Jack: Which Historic Battle Would You Want To Witness?

Ever wonder how much Jack Mandaville would f*ck sh*t up if he went back in time? The American Revolution didn't even see him coming.

west point time capsule
West Point Time Capsule Yields Centuries-Old Coins

A nearly 200-year-old West Point time capsule that at first appeared to yield little more than dust contains hidden treasure, the US Military Academy said.

Ouija Board aircraft carrier
Low-Tech ‘Ouija Boards’ Have Helped Aircraft Carriers Operate for Decades

Since the 1920s, a low-tech tabletop replica of an aircraft carrier’s flight deck has been an essential tool in coordinating air operations.

Army vs. Navy mascot
The Navy Goat vs. the Army Mule: Mascot Origin Stories

For nearly as long as the Army-Navy football rivalry, the academies’ hoofed mascots have stared each other down from the sidelines. Here are their stories.

ukraine long-range weapon
Zelenskyy Says Ukraine Has Developed a Long-Range Weapon, a Day After Strike Deep Inside Russia

Zelenskyy said on his Telegram channel the weapon was produced by Ukraine’s Ministry of Strategic Industries but gave no other details.

7 of the Best Movie Ambush Scenes of All Time

Ambushes make for great action scenes. Here are seven of the best to ever grace the big screen.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, with his daughter, center right, reportedly named Ju Ae, review the honor guard during their visit to the navy headquarter in North Korea
North Korea Launches Missile Toward Sea After US Flies Bomber During Drills

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the launch occurred Wednesday but gave no further details, such as how far the missile flew.

  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
Contact Us
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved