Toddler trapped for 14 hours in car crash in Utah river is improving

SALT LAKE CITY (REUTERS) - An 18-month-old girl who was rescued from a car partially submerged in a Utah river for 14 hours remained in critical condition in a hospital on Monday, but relatives said she was improving and was smiling and laughing for family members.

The girl, Lily Groesbeck, was found by a fisherman on Saturday in a car seat inside the upturned vehicle alongside the body of her 25-year-old mother, Lynn Jennifer Groesbeck, who was killed in the accident, police said.

The toddler was in the back seat of the car "with the water just inches away from her face," said Spanish Fork Police Department Lieutenant Matt Johnson.

Lily's aunt, Jill Sanderson, said in a statement on the website that the girl's improvement had been astounding, and that the family had been shown love and support from all over the world. "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," Sanderson wrote.

Authorities believe the accident happened at about 10:30 p.m. on Friday as the mother and daughter drove home to Springville, a suburb of Provo. A witness said she heard a noise and investigated, but saw nothing at the time, authorities said.

Johnson said on Monday that the vehicle traveled down the embankment and flipped on to its roof. "We are still currently investigating, but there was no evidence of evasion or skid marks. We don't know if she was drowsy or if there was driver error," he said, adding that the results of toxicology tests are pending.

The child was taken by ambulance to the small town of Mountain View and then air-lifted to Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, Johnson said, adding that she remained in a critical condition. A call to the hospital's spokeswoman was not immediately returned.

Among the family members gathered at the hospital on Monday was the girl's father, who was not married to the mother and lives in another state, Johnson said.

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