Near Drowning Incident at Bear River
Near-Drowning Incident at Bear River Bridge
May 30, 1900

From Charles William Buttars' life history:

One day Charles Buttars took his fast team of horses and drove his cousin Mary Harmon, her baby, his mother and his father [David Buttars and Sarah Keep Buttars] from Clarkston and Newton, Utah to Logan. They went by way of the Benson Ward road. When they were about half-way across the Bear River bridge in Benson, it broke and the buggy, horses and all the people went into the water. A heavy timber fell across Grandma Sarah Keep Buttars, badly cutting her head. As Charles was trying to get the timber off her, he saw the baby floating downstream. Just before it floated under the broken bridge, he caught its clothing and saved its life. He needed help quickly, so he yelled for help loud enough for workers in a field a mile away to hear and come. Upon getting Grandma Sarah on the river bank, they felt sure she wouldn't live. The field workers came two days later to attend her funeral but found her very much alive.

[Mary Harmon, who lived in Newton, was the daughter of John and Ruth (Keep) Griffin. Mary's mother Ruth was a sister to Sarah (Keep) Buttars, Charles' mother]


From David Buttars' life history:

He [David] almost drowned, along with his wife Sarah, on his way home from the temple when the bridge over Bear River broke. Two men happened by or they never would have gotten out.


From Sarah Keep Buttars' life history (told in her own words):

I have been near drowning two or three times. Once on the ship and twice in America. Once was when I was crossing the Bear River bridge with my husband and relatives. We were returning from doing temple work. The bridge broke and we all went into the river. I was laid upon the river bank, thought to be dead after being crushed with the broken timber from the bridge. However, I regained consciousness. This was on May 30, 1899.

From the Newspaper Account
(Thanks to Eldon Griffin's research)

EDITOR JOURNAL:--Your correspondent has just interviewed Mr. and Mrs. Butters, who went down with the Bear River bridge on Tuesday evening.  At half past five they drove upon the bridge.  There were five of them in the buggy: Father David and Mrs. Butters, their son, Charles and Mrs. Jenkins and her baby.  They had almost reached the center of the bridge, when it fell, and in a moment they were struggling in the water, with beams and iron pinning them down.  The buggy was overturned in the fall,  and for a time they were in imminent danger of drowning.  In the fall Mrs. Jenkins' baby was thrown from her arms and fell in the river, but Charles Butters was fortunate enough to catch it before it sank, and restore it to its mother.
     They cried aloud for help, and Mr. Wm. Bingham and a man who was plowing near by, rushed to the rescue.  Charles was the first to get out, and the three proceeded to lift the timbers off the others and assist them to shore.
     Mrs. Butters was found to be the worst injured, as she received a blow which cut a great gash in her scalp, struck her also in the face, knocking her teeth out, and she was so badly injured internally that she finds it difficult to breathe.
     Father Butters' shoulder was severely injured, and Charles complains of pains all over his body.
 Mr. Bingham and the other gentleman did good work in the rescue, and Mr. Bingham rode in his wet clothes to Logan for a doctor, being unable to catch one by telephone from Smithfield.
     Dr. Parkinson attended, sewed up the wound in Mrs. Butters' head and made her as comfortable as possible.  She is still suffering greatly, however.  I learn that the county commissioners will pay the attendant expense.
 The two runaway boys (etc)........Respectfully
 Clarkston, June 1, 1900"  (4)

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