UPDATE: At least 3 dead after truck plunges into Oklahoma river

Thursday, February 3, 2011 | 10:22 a.m. CST; updated 12:02 p.m. CST, Thursday, February 3, 2011
This frame grab from KOTV video in Tulsa, Okla., shows a crew rescuing people who were trapped in a vehicle that plummeted from a bridge into the Spring River on Thursday near Miami, Okla. Three people have died in the accident and Oklahoma authorities say the pickup truck was carrying as many as eight people when it drove off of snow-covered Interstate 44 and into the river.

MIAMI, Okla. — A sheriff says at least three people were killed when the pickup truck they were in ran off of a snow-covered highway and into an icy Oklahoma river.

The accident happened about 6:30 a.m. Thursday morning on Interstate 44 not far from the Missouri-Oklahoma state line.

Ottawa County Sheriff Terry Durborow says the truck jumped a guard rail on I-44 in northeast Oklahoma near the town of Miami and fell into the Spring River below. The truck was partially submerged.

Durborow says five to eight people were in the truck.

"This is a fall of 80 feet or better. ... That alone is a very dangerous type of crash. This is a very traumatic crash," said Oklahoma Highway Department spokesman Lt. George Brown.

Motorists who witnessed the accident said they peered over the side of the bridge and spotted six victims outside of the truck in the icy water and another two people inside the vehicle, Brown said.

"The rescue teams got a small boat, hoisted it down in the water and started the recovery," Brown said.

Survivors were taken by ambulance and helicopters to nearby hospitals, he said.

"The ground temperature was 11 degrees below zero, so it would take seconds to become hypothermic in this water and ice."

Hundreds of motorists were stranded on Interstate 44 during the huge snowstorm that barreled through Oklahoma and much of the nation this week, and crews were still working Wednesday to clear the westbound lane.

Brown declined to speculate about whether officials may have opened the westbound lanes too soon.


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Mary Kay Kidwell February 3, 2011 | 12:48 p.m.

Please follow this story with self-survival information from the ultimate expert, Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht of Manitoba University. He has conducted numerous studies on vehicle immersion as well as hypothermia and has excellent advice on both. Also, the Indiana State Police have produced a life-saving video that everyone should see: Approximately 10,000 vehicles go into water each year in the US; 300 of those occupants drown. Please share the video with family and friends so that we can reduce these statistics. I know the tragedy of such an accident; my teenage grandson drowned in his sinking car. Stay safe.

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