Watch CBSN Live

Okla. First Responders Recall Icy River Rescue

The monster storm that blew through Oklahoma Tuesday evening caused a deadly accident and dramatic rescue Thursday.

"Early Show" co-anchor Jeff Glor reported an SUV with eight people inside jumped a guard rail off Interstate 44 early Thursday in Miami, Okla. The truck then fell more than 80 feet into the freezing waters of the Spring River below.

Emergency crews in Oklahoma braved the icy waters and bone-chilling temperatures in a daring rescue, trying to reach passengers stranded for two hours in the submerged vehicle.

Glor reported it was around 6:30 a.m. Thursday when the SUV veered off the highway bridge, hitting a plowed snow bank that witnesses say acted like a ramp, launching them over a guardrail.

The truck fell more than 80 feet to the river below. It remained only half submerged and upright. But with air temperatures 13 degrees below zero, rescuers said hypothermia set in quickly.

Crews lowered a small boat down to the river, allowing them to safely bring six people up to waiting helicopters. Two died on the scene, one later died on the way to a local hospital.

Five patients remain in local hospitals being treated for broken bones and hypothermia. Six rescuers were also treated for hypothermia and exposure had to be taken to the hospital. All of them are expected to recover.

On "The Early Show" Chief Jeffrey Reeves, of the Quapaw Tribe Fire/EMS, said he knew the rescue was going to be difficult from the start because of the elements.

He said, "The air temperatures being what they were -- minus 12 degrees -- we knew it was going to be a difficult rescue, in the proximity of the victims."

Chief Ronnie Klein, of the Miami City Fire Department, said he felt the clock ticking for the survivors.

"Any time, you know, we're dealing with that type of a temperature, and the location of the patient, time is always something that's in the back of your head," Klein said. "Also knowing the trauma that they probably had suffered due to the fall."

Reeves said the survivors were extremely cold when reached by the first responders.

"Hypothermia definitely set in," he said. "They were -- they were becoming very rigid, a lot of them couldn't even walk to the boat. They had to be basically carried or in some instances even dragged across the bed of the pickup to the boat and placed in the boat. They had basically begun to completely shut down, and their body function, as far as muscle reaction, and being able to follow commands was basically gone. They were so cold, they'd been there so long."