36-year-old man dies after apparent drowning in Utah Lake

Published: Sunday, Aug. 19 2012 10:45 p.m. MDT

UTAH LAKE — A 36-year-old man died Sunday after an apparent drowning in Utah Lake.

A call came in around 7 p.m. reporting a boat in distress with two men in the water, Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon said. A group of friends from the Salt Lake County area had an old boat they had repaired and decided to take it for a test drive earlier in the evening.

"They were out there, recreating, when the boat died," Cannon said. "They had spent a period of time trying to get it running when one of them jumped in to swim."

The 36-year-old man didn't have a life jacket and, after swimming for a short period of time, had drifted a small distance from the boat. He started waving for help and a second man grabbed a pair of life jackets and jumped in after his friend.

"They actually did get together, but weren't able, for some reason, to get the life jackets on," Cannon said. "The wind came up, caused some problems, and got them further separated from the boat and from the life jackets."

An official from Utah Lake State Park left from the Provo harbor and was able to reach the men and get them into his boat. He transported them to the American Fork boat harbor. They were taken to an area hospital where the 36-year-old man passed away.

"We assume from drowning," Cannon said. "We won't know that for sure until he's been taken to the medical examiner's office."

He said it is unclear what specifically caused the man to become distressed, but that it could be a number of things, including exhaustion or weather and water conditions.

"Typically, in situations like this, it's a combination of factors," Cannon said.

The man's 52-year-old friend suffered from hypothermia, but is expected to make a full recovery.

Bishop Tillman was also on the lake Sunday evening and said he saw a police boat and then people in the water. He said those in his boat were wondering what they were doing when they heard the ambulance sirens.

They docked their boat shortly before the police boat brought the two men in.

"They were trying to resuscitate one gentleman," Tillman said. "The other gentleman seemed really distraught. They had a towel around him, trying to comfort him. It was just a lot of chaos."

He said the water conditions were rough and would have been difficult to swim in.

"My prayers go out to the family," he said. "I hope everything is OK. It's just a tragedy."

The victim's name was not released pending family notification.

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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