STRAWBERRY RESERVOIR Optimism was high Friday to recover the bodies of an Orem couple presumed drowned in Strawberry Reservoir after their boat overturned during a storm Wednesday.
Unlike Thursday, Friday's weather was perfect for searchers, with blue sky, no wind and a lake surface as smooth as glass.
"We're ever so hopeful today will be the day we can find them and bring them home," said Judy Harding Roundy, the stepmother of Steven Roundy, at the beginning of the day. Steven, 29, and his wife, Catheryn, 23, were missing after their boat filled with water and capsized Wednesday in a sudden storm over the lake.
But despite the ideal conditions, search and rescue crews were not able to find the bodies Friday in the reservoir, which covers more than seven square miles.
"It's like looking for a needle in a haystack," said Wasatch County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Todd Bonner.
And with more storms in the forecast for the weekend, searchers and even family members of the victims conceded Friday may have been their last chance.
"Today's the day to decide if we have a funeral or a memorial," said Judy Roundy.
Steven and Catheryn Roundy were last seen trying to swim to shore after the storm filled their 14-foot aluminum boat with water and capsized it.
Steven's brother, 28-year-old Kimball Roundy, and Mike New were able to grab a gas can and a life jacket that floated to the surface after the boat went under. They used their arms to hold onto the floating items and then kicked nearly two miles in the 40-degree water to shore.
"I just kept thinking about making it. I just wouldn't allow myself to give up," Kimball Roundy said Friday. "I just kept focusing on the shoreline."
Kimball returned to the reservoir Friday along with his and Steven's mother, Judy Adams, and stepmother Judy. Catheryn's parents were scheduled to fly into Utah from Chicago Friday evening.
The Roundy family was taken Friday afternoon out onto the lake by the sheriff's office so they could see the recovery efforts first-hand and deputies could explain what was happening.
Occasional tears were shed by all family members as they thought about their lost loved ones. But they remained strong despite the realization that the search had become a recovery effort.
Despite wearing dark sunglasses, Kimball Roundy's emotions were evident as he returned to the area where his boat overturned.
"It still doesn't seem real. It doesn't seem like 48 hours ago I was swimming through this lake to the shore," he said. "I only have sore muscles and sore feet, and my brother and his wife are dead. How come I can be so fine if they're not?"
Roundy says he's in the worst shape of his life and he probably wouldn't be able to walk two miles today, let alone swim it.
"I had to decide if I wanted to live or die," he said. "I decided I wanted to live. I decided I was going to make my own miracle."
Family members recalled how the Roundys had always been a family of fishermen through the generations and how Steven had been on Strawberry at least 20 times this summer before Wednesday.
As they recalled fond memories, however, the family also tried to prepare themselves for what to expect when the bodies are found by asking Kohler several questions.
The Department of Public Safety and the Summit County Sheriff's Office assisted in Friday's search using sonar equipment on their boats and making a grid to search the bottom of the lake. Divers were on hand, but used sparingly, only when a potential find was made.
Kohler called scuba diving in Strawberry "extreme" because of the water temperature, the elevation and the depth of the water. The area where searchers concentrated their efforts Friday was 80 feet to 85 feet deep. Divers in that lake can typically only work safely for 10 minutes at a time, he said.
Based on currents and where the boat was last seen, searchers concentrated on a portion of the lake where Kohler said there was the "highest probability" of the bodies being recovered. They then spread out farther into the lake and continued searching as long as the weather permitted.
The Roundys call the incident an "enormous tragedy and loss for all of us." Adding to the family's despair, Steven's father was admitted to the hospital Thursday night for an undisclosed ailment, possibly gallstones, according to the family.As the family returned to the dock, they thanked the search and rescue members, the majority of whom are volunteers who don't get paid for their hours of work.
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