SALT LAKE CITY – SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A 12-year-old Utah boy who dragged three younger children from a one-vehicle accident that killed their baby sitter said he knew he had to act fast.
"I remember we fishtailed and went off the edge," Cory Arnett of New Harmony, Utah, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The driver, Beth Donnelly, drifted off a steep, narrow mountain road on Monday and flipped her Ford Explorer, which landed nose first in a 15-foot stream bed. She was ejected from an open window and died instantly.
Donnelly's 3-year-old daughter and two other children, a 2-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy from another family, were left screaming inside the vehicle. Cory initially blacked out, then got out the younger kids, who had minor injuries.
Cory pushed one child up the embankment while carrying another with his left arm and dragging a third child by his left leg. He sheltered the children from the heat under a tree and then walked a mile for help. He flagged down a nurse on an ATV.
But first, the boy checked on Donnelly, who was lying face-down in the dirt.
"When I turned her over, her face and head were bleeding. The medics said she died instantly — and I knew that. But it was my responsibility to get the kids out of there," Cory said.
The boy's father, Don Arnett, said Donnelly was new to the area and decided to take a drive while baby-sitting the children. She drove to the top of a "treacherous" dirt road outside of New Harmony that is littered with potholes and rocks. She turned around, and it was on the descent that she lost control.
Donnelly and her husband had just moved from Las Vegas. Don Arnett, an insurance executive, said they rented a house he owned nearby. The woman's husband commutes to Las Vegas for a four-day work week.
Cory Arnett said he tried to warn Donnelly that she was driving too fast. She replied that she was going only 30 mph — a speed Don Arnett said was probably too fast for the rubble-filled road that is snowbound in winter.
"Cory is handling it pretty well and everyone is assuring him he did everything he could do," his father told The Spectrum of St. George. "There is nothing he could have done that he didn't do."