Utah teacher and daughter drown in Bear Lake while rescuing 8-year-old relative

Posted at 11:43 AM, Aug 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-05 00:00:57-04

FISH HAVEN, Idaho - Authorities have identified the victims who drowned Wednesday in Bear Lake while rescuing an 8-year-old relative.

Officials said Jennifer Lambourne, 37, was a teacher in the Jordan School District and her daughter, 11-year-old Brooklyn, would have been entering the 6th grade at Eastlake Elementary.

"It's been a very… a very tearful, tearful day," said Eastlake Principal Kyle Hansen, getting choked up as he spoke.

In the neighborhood near the school where the mother and daughter lived, ribbons lined trees and cards, hearts and gifts rested on the porch Thursday.

The Lambourne family's LDS Bishop, Greg Rechtenbach, said the father, Josh, and 10-year old son Boston were still trying to grasp their loss.

"It's a shock," he said. "It's been a difficult several hours and they're just trying to understand what happened."

The Bear Lake County Sheriff's Office in Idaho said Brooklyn and an 8-year-old cousin were on an inflatable water toy near Fish Haven in Bear Lake Wednesday afternoon when a sudden storm generated strong winds and pushed them further out onto the lake.

"The mothers of the girls immediately swam into the water in an attempt to bring them into shore," said Chief Deputy Bart Heslington with the Bear Lake County Sheriff's Office.

He said the 8-year-old fell off the toy and into the water, and Brooklyn went in the water to help her struggling cousin. At some point Brooklyn slipped under the water and did not resurface.

Lambourne eventually reached the 8-year-old.

"Jennifer was attempting to keep the 8 year old afloat," Heslington said.

Eventually, he said the mother also went under water and did not resurface. People in the immediate area were able to get Jennifer and the 8-year-old to shore.

Jennifer and the 8-year-old were taken to the hospital, where Jennifer later died. Crews continued to search for Brooklyn and found her body at about 7 p.m.

"Jenny loved her children very, very much and obviously would do anything, including sacrificing herself," Bishop Rechtenbach said.

That love also poured into teaching children. Hansen said Lambourne taught at Eastlake for several years, and was prepping to welcome a new class of first graders in a few weeks.

He described her as magnetic and as an expert at helping the children grow and learn new skills.

"She was powerful in the classroom with making a connection with every kid," Hansen said.

Rechtenbach said Brooklyn enjoyed crafts, baking and playing with dolls.

"Brooklyn loved to be outdoors, loved to play with her friends," he said.

While there is so much to remember the mother and daughter by, he said what stood out the most is their love for others, selflessness and courageousness.

The Jordan School District brought in grief counselors to Eastlake on Thursday to talk with students and staff. The District also sent Fox 13 this statement:

We are deeply saddened by the loss of Jennifer Lambourne who was a beloved teacher, friend and member of the Jordan School District family.

Her school and community are coming together to mourn the loss of Jennifer and her daughter Brooklyn, who was entering the 6th grade at Eastlake Elementary.

Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the family at this very difficult time.

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