Caught on camera: The miracles behind the rescues

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Story highlights

  • People behind two daring rescues caught on camera share their stories
  • Watch "Viral Videos 2" at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday on CNN
Watch "Videos Gone Viral 2" at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday on CNN.

(CNN)Some things you just have to see to believe, and some things are hard to believe -- even after you see them. CNN spoke with people involved in two dramatic rescues that were caught on tape.

Amid their strength and courage, these heroes pointed to something else that made the rescue possible. Call it an inexplicable force, an uncanny coincidence, or divine intervention -- these are the miracles behind their rescues.

Finding Baby Lily

    "All I know is that it was there, we all heard it, and that just helped us to push us harder." -- Officer Tyler Beddoes of Spanish Fork, Utah
    Jennifer Groesbeck, 25, was traveling home to Springville, Utah, after visiting with family in nearby Salem in March of this year. In the backseat, her 18-month-old daughter, Lily, was strapped in a car seat.
    Groesbeck never made it home.
    That same night, Spanish Fork resident Neil Sorensen was getting ready for bed when he heard something unusual. "I heard a big, just a big noise I can't explain, a big thunk, thud, an impact . . . and then there was just dead silence."
    Sorensen, who lives just a few hundred yards from the Main Street bridge overlooking the Spanish Fork River, had no idea what the noise was.
    The next day, a fisherman made a chilling discovery and called 911. "There's a car in the river; it's upside down off of Main Street . . . and there is a person inside," he told the dispatcher.
    Groesbeck's car was partially submerged under a bridge in the icy waters of the Spanish Fork River. Investigators believe she hit a concrete barrier and landed in the river.
    Officer Beddoes told CNN when he and other first responders arrived, they heard a faint, mysterious sound. "We heard something saying, 'Help us, help us,' inside."
    Groesbeck was dead, but a body camera worn by Officer Jared Warner captured the dramatic moment when they realized she was not the only one in the car. Lily was found still strapped in her car seat. She was hanging upside down -- unconscious, but alive. She had been suspended there overnight for 14 hours and was dangling only inches above the freezing water.
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    Responders pried open the door, cut Lily from the seat and removed her. Video shows Warner cradling the child as he scaled the embankment and climbed into the ambulance. For the next six minutes, Warner and an EMT performed CPR in route to the hospital.
    At first, doctors feared she would face severe, long-term effects such as brain damage or paralysis from the hypothermia. But five days later, Lily was released into her father's care. She has since made a full recovery.
    Still, the question remains, whose voice did the rescuers hear?
    Police Lt. Matt Johnson told the local media that none of the rescue team believes the voice came from Groesbeck.
    "I don't believe she survived the impact of the car crash. There was massive trauma," he said.
    Beddoes said no matter where the voice came from, it pushed them all to do whatever it took save the little baby.
    For Sorensen and the rest of Spanish Fork, the outcome is far more important than an explanation. "I know it's a miracle that that infant was saved...she has purpose in this life that we don't understand."

    Race against the flames

    "They say you see your life flash before your eyes . . . I was thinking, this is where they're going to find me, right here. And I could see my mom, my wife, my family being sad. . . . and I said, God, you got to get me out of here." -- Construction superintendent Curtis Reissig
    Reissig, 56, was the superintendent of a five-story, $50-million luxury apartment complex being built in the historic district of Montrose, just outside of Houston, in March 2014.
    A small fire on the roof interrupted his lunch break. He grabbed a fire extinguisher and made his way upstairs. He quickly realized a fire extinguisher would not be enough to handle this blaze. A raging, wind-driven five-alarm fire was heading right for him.
    Karen Jones, who was working next door, recorded the inferno on her phone as the flames swept across the roof.
    "When I say it was like a movie, it's because the emotion . . . that adrenaline, like oh, gosh! Don't go there! No, go this way. Don't go over there," she said.
    Earlier in the day, Houston Fire Station 18 had been dispatched to help an elderly woman change a battery in a CO2 detector. As they were finishing up, they were dispatched to the fire at the construction site. That first call put them two miles closer to the scene.
    Capt. Brad Hawthorne knew they were still too far away; they would need more help, and they got it.
    "It's around lunchtime, usually in a real heavy trafficked area. Out of 16 to 17 intersections, I don't think we caught but one light, red light," Hawthorne said.
    By the time they reached the scene, the apartment complex was fully engulfed in flames, and Reissig's window of opportunity was collapsing.
    "The speed that the flames were moving, I was going to have to do something. Otherwise, I was going to cook like a marshmallow out there," he said.
    So he took a leap of faith, performing a circus act to save his life. Reissig swung and jumped from the fifth-floor balcony onto the fourth floor.
    "I'm not an acrobat or a gymnast. . . . it was like I had a turbo thought pattern, how to do it each step...and that if I didn't complete each one, I wasn't going to make it," he said.
    From there, Reissig climbed onto the ladder with Hawthorne, only seconds before the fiery wall collapsed. The 396-unit complex was reduced to ashes.
    Months later, Hawthorne reflected on the sequence of events that, to him, were more fortuitous than random.
    "It was too many things to line up to get where we were . . . if we had been earlier, we would have been up on the roof. We could've been in danger. If it had been later, we would be under the thing. Curtis jumping from one floor to the next . . .17 intersections that we went through and didn't catch a light . . . us being two miles closer, too many coincidences in my mind."
    Jones said those coincidences translated into a spiritual phenomenon,
    "It was the firefighters, but it was God working through the firefighters. It was God working through Curtis to have the forethought of thinking it out and going to that next ledge . . . it wasn't just that traffic was OK that day. It wasn't just that all the lights were just right. He put all that in motion."
    Reissig said God was definitely with him that day, but it didn't hurt to have the men at Station 18 there to lend a hand.
    "I'm the one running away from the flames, and they're running toward it . . . to save people like me, or you know, people in bad places," he said.
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