SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah toddler who was rescued 14 hours after her mother’s car crashed into an icy river is expected to be released from the hospital soon, her father said Wednesday.
Lily Groesbeck is recovering at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, where she was airlifted on Saturday after she was discovered in an upside-down car, still strapped into her car seat.
Police in Spanish Fork, Utah, said the baby survived 14 hours in freezing temperatures before a fisherman spotted the vehicle and called 911. Her mother, 25-year-old Lynn Jennifer Groesbeck of Springville, was found dead in the car.
Devin Trafny, Lily’s father, released a short video of his daughter Wednesday (watch it above) and released a statement about what the last few days have been like, according to CBS affiliate KUTV.
“Until now, I have been focusing totally on Lily, and I have spent every day at her bedside,” Trafny wrote. “Lily came into the hospital Saturday in critical condition, and today she’s in great condition – she’s happy, playing, talking, and even reciting her nursery rhymes. Except for a few bruises, she has made a remarkable recovery.”
Trafny went on to say how grateful he was to have his daughter alive and thanked the emergency responders who pulled Lily to safety and the doctors and hospital staff who have been caring for her.
“She is alive today because of all of you,” Trafny said.
Trafny said the next step will be “rebuilding our lives after the loss of Lily’s mother, Jenny.” He also expressed appreciation to all those who gave financial support and expressed concern for his family.
A GoFundMe page that was set up after the accident has already gathered more than $68,000 in just three days. The original goal to cover Lily’s medical costs was $50,000.
“I will be forever grateful for all of you,” Trafny said.
“Her improvement is astounding,” Jill Sanderson, Lilly’s aunt, wrote on the fundraiser page. “Right now she’s watching Dora and singing ‘Wheels on the Bus’ with Grandpa. She is smiling and laughing for family members. We’re blown away by Lily’s progress and so grateful to her rescuers.”
Investigators believe Groesbeck struck a cement barrier on a bridge and careened into the river. The first police officers on the scene said they heard a voice begging for help.
“Someone said ‘help me’ inside that car,” Spanish Fork Police Officer Tyler Beddoes told KUTV.
Officer Jared Warner told KSL he also heard a voice.
“(It) wasn’t just in our heads,” Warner said. “To me, it was plain as day. I remember hearing a voice that didn’t sound like a child, just saying ‘help me.'”
Lily is too young to speak and was unconscious and unresponsive when she was found.