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Utah family jumps into action to help man who fell through ice at East Canyon Reservoir

Posted at 9:35 PM, Dec 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-29 23:35:53-05

MORGAN COUNTY, Utah — When a man fell through the ice while fishing at East Canyon Reservoir Saturday, a nearby family was quick to help.

“This is a very popular time for folks to come out and keep fishing through the winter time,” said East Canyon State Park, park manager Chris Haramoto.

Like many others, Christine Wolf and her brother Jason brought the kids up to the reservoir to do a little ice fishing with the family. But when they arrived Friday, they noticed something was missing.

“This side of the lake was not frozen at all. It was open water,” said Wolf.

Park Manager, Chris Haramoto said Friday night the northern end of the reservoir saw its first freeze, leaving a layer of ice about an inch thick come Saturday morning (most anglers deem four to five inches as a “safe” width for fishing).

“I knew it wasn’t going to be thick enough for people to be fishing on this end,” said Wolf.

“We didn’t think anybody was going to step on that ice,” her brother said.

Then a group did, the family noticed.

“Every so often we went out to check on them,” Wolf said. “You could hear the ice crack."

One of the men in the group had fallen into the waiting 33-degree water.

“He tried to get himself out, but it just broke and broke and continued to break,” Wolf said.

“Everyone just kicked it into high gear knowing we had just a few minutes,” she said. “Cranked the heaters, got blankets, I started water so we could get everybody hot drinks.”

While the family was preparing their nearby cabin, one of the people with the man called the park manager for help. Hypothermia had started to set in, in a matter of minutes.

“With the condition he was in, when we rescued him, he was definitely losing those fine motor skills. The things that can help you save your self at that point,” Haramoto said.

The family sent all of the men in their group down to the water to help pull the man in and carry him to their cabin.

“His reactions were slow, he was very lethargic he was numb,” Wolf said. “He couldn’t walk, he couldn’t talk, he had no mobility.”

A medical team came to check him out, luckily he walked away unscathed.

“It’s usually a really fun experience,” said Haramoto. “But today was not that day.”

Haramoto said for East Canyon Reservoir, in particular, the water on the south side freezes earlier in the season than the north, so it is safer to be there.

Visitors can call any of the state parks ahead of time for up to date ice conditions and recommendations.