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Montana man saves 3 teens after car becomes trapped in irrigation ditch

Billings Ditch Rescue
Posted at 12:51 PM, Oct 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-05 15:51:14-04

BILLINGS, Mont. — On Monday evening, Travis Salter arrived at his son's football game. What he didn't know was that a few hours later, he would be diving into an irrigation ditch nearby to save lives.

“I’ve always kind of been built that way, but it just happened to be one of those situations where it was right at your lap. There isn't really any time for anything else,” Salter said.

After his son scored a touchdown, Salter noticed a car driving down the dirt road toward the ditch. Seconds later, he heard a sound he'll never forget.

"It was a loud and scary sound when that car hit the water. It caught the attention of everyone on the field where the game was put on delay for a quick second because you just knew something was wrong," Salter said.

Salter immediately took off sprinting towards the vehicle and jumped into the water without a second thought.

"I didn't know who was in the car, I didn't know how many people were in the car, but my main focus was to get them out by any means necessary," he said.

Initially, Salter tried to open the car doors as the vehicle began to fill with water. When they wouldn't budge, he attempted to break the windows out with his bare hands. On his second attempt, he found success.

“I just remember the girls, the looks on their face[s]. They were screaming as the window broke. I mean, they couldn’t get out of there fast enough. They were probably up to their chest high in [the] water at that point in time.”

It wasn't the first time Salter had attempted to rescue a stranger out of water. During his time as a student at Rocky Mountain College, Salter was confronted with a similar situation at Riverfront Park. Unfortunately, that person wasn't so lucky.

"We tried to save a guy that had gone in, only we didn't get the chance to save him. So, this for me was almost like a redemption kind of story," Salter said.

Salter said he's thankful Monday ended much differently.

"I was just happy it ended the way that it did and that the parents were able to give their daughters hugs at the end of the night and know that they are at home with them," Salter said.

Charlie Klepps at KTVQ first reported this story.