San Rafael Classic dedicated to the Issel family
The Emery County Search and Rescue honored the White family and dedicated the San Rafael Classic Triathlon to the memory of Hugh and Alana Lea Issel. The husband and wife were killed on May 25 when their ATV went off a 150 foot cliff in Eagle Canyon.
Sgt. Les Wilberg presented a plaque to the White family. The Eagle AirMed chopper landed at Huntington Lake State Park with the crew that was present the day of the accident.
They reunited with the White family and met Cooper to see how he is progressing in healing from the accident.
Wilberg gave an account of what happened that day, "On May 25 at 3:08 p.m. the Emery County Dispatch received a 911 call from Brendan White who advised there was an ATV accident. An 8-year old male and 8 year old female were both critically injured and two elderly adults appeared to be deceased. The children were Cooper White and Evelyn Anderson. The adults were Hubert Roger Issel and Alana Lea Issel.
"From this call, three medical helicopters responded as well as two ground ambulances, rope rescue team, deputies and search and rescue. The very men here today that organized this Triathlon. They were dispatched to the accident scene from the coordinates gathered from the cell phone call.
Sgt. Wilberg said there were many events and decisions made at the time of the accident by Jana and Brendan White. They remained calm during the accident. Sgt. Wilberg said they are heroes to him and their efforts saved the lives of the two children. They were very understanding of the dire circumstances their family was in and understood the limited resources, the distance the help had to travel to get there and the rough terrain at the scene.
The children were both transported by helicopter to Primary Childrens Hospital 200 miles away. Jana's parents Hugh and Alana were both deceased and they were two hours from their campsite with their belongings and a long trip back to Salt Lake.
Sgt. Wilberg said, "They remained calm and showed the utmost respect to those who were on scene. They are heroes. Therefore, the 2014 San Rafael Classic Triathlon will be dedicated to Hubert Roger Issel and his wife Alana Lea Issel. Their memory will live on and their love for adventure.
Wilberg said the Whites were already planning to attend the San Rafael Classic Triathlon in Huntington and decided to carry out their plans. Sgt. Wilberg said it was a good time to get everyone involved with the rescue together under happier circumstances.
Jeremy Lake made the plaque given to the White family. It contains scenes from Eagle Canyon.
Brendan White said, "The rescuers took such good care of us. There were a string of so many events. The helicopter got there so fast. I'm amazed how they took care of us to this day. It's really been very humbling. Everyone really cared how we were doing. Cooper didn't have much time left that day and they took him in the helicopter and they stopped in Provo to intubate him. His face was just smashed and he was having difficulty breathing. So they stopped in Provo and got a better tube in him and then continued on to Primary Childrens Hospital. Cooper had a lot of injuries. He's had two surgeries so far on his face and there will be more. He will have to have the plates taken out as he grows. There will be more surgeries. He has nerve damage in his arm. We don't know yet the extent. He has a broken arm. He has a facial fracture through his jaw. He can only open his jaw a little ways, but he manages to eat.
"Right now it's summer vacation for him, but we will see how he does about going back to school and maybe he'll go a half a day to start with.
"It's been a string of miracles. The helicopter getting there that fast, getting him to Primary Childrens that fast. The accident tore his helmet off and he had a big bruise under his chin.
"We were up ahead of Hugh and Alana on our ATV. We got to the top of the hill and we saw them tip over and roll out of view and then we couldn't see them," said Brendan.
Jana went down the cliff to administer first aid to the victims while Brendan made the 911 phone call and got help coming their way. Their younger son Cameron was also with Brendan at the top of the hill.
Sheriff Greg Funk said, "Our search and rescue team is just amazing. They are incredible. Everyone was great, the helicopter the ambulance crews. Both Ferron and Emery ambulances responded and the search and rescue crews."
Brendan said, "The doctors said Cooper might not remember much from that day, but he remembers the roll."
Brendan said his in-laws were driving a brand new machine that day.
They took a trail that was easy because it was a new machine.
Brendan said everything was fine on that trail until they hit that bump at the top of the trail. They had been in the area riding ATVs for two and a half days before the accident.
They came down on Friday and the accident occurred on Sunday. They had spent Saturday hiking in the Swell. Brendan said they like Emery County and visiting the Swell.
They really did a lot with Jana's parents and were very close with them. Losing them in this tragic way has been very difficult for the family.
"Jana has her good days and bad days. Anytime our family went camping, Hugh and Alana went with us," said Brendan.
"We live in Draper. Before we had kids we did a lot of triathlons. Now we still do a few. We like to go mountain biking and we've been motorcycle riding a few times," said Brendan.
Brendan said he was happy to hear the trail had been fixed and the bump was smoothed out to make it safer for ATV travel on that trail. Evelyn Anderson the other grandchild involved is doing well.
Hugh was 70 years old and his wife Alana was 64.