An intense storm system swept through much of the Southwest over the weekend, sparking a Utah bridge to crumble amid overwhelming flooding that toppled a vehicle into a nearby river.
Sussana Dursi and Roberto Bellocci, both from Italy, were unexpectedly sucked down into the crack of a collapsed bridge near Kodachrome Basin State Park in southern Utah on the evening of Sept. 27.
Due to torrential rainfall, the ground underneath the bridge was swamped with rain and became too loose to support the overhead bridge. As the couple tried to return to their campsite, the bridge disintegrated and launched their car 150 yards downstream into the Paria River.
The vehicle finally came to a stop in the middle of the river, upside down and crumpled into a heap. The couple was able to stumble out of the car through a smashed window and seek refuge on top of their demolished car.
Around 9 p.m. at night, air temperatures dropped into the low 40s with AccuWeather RealFeel® temperatures hovering in the upper 30s, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. Already drenched and covered in mud, the couple was stranded in the cold until a driver in the area spotted them and alerted local police.
Using a flashlight, Garfield County Deputy Pearson was able to locate the couple after hearing faint cries for help.
With assistance from the Garfield County Search and Rescue Swift Water Team, the couple was successfully rescued and transported to a local hospital where they are expected to recover fully after suffering from extreme hypothermia.
According to AccuWeather Senior Expert Meteorologist Ken Clark, the unseasonably strong storm and cold front brought a slow-moving band of rain and a thunderstorm to the area.
"With a lot of moisture available in the air, large rain amounts fell in relatively a short time period," Clark said.