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Family mourns death of Bountiful man during Hawaii vacation

Posted at 3:48 PM, Aug 30, 2023

BOUNTIFUL, Utah — The family of a Bountiful man who disappeared while snorkeling in Hawaii last week remains heartbroken after the loss of a husband, father and brother.

Phil Bailey's brother says his last interaction he had with Phil was in the water on their way back to the beach. Stanton Bailey asked him, “How are you feeling?” and Phil answered, “I’m good.”

Phil Bailey Family
Phil Bailey in red stands with brothers on vacation in Hawaii

On Aug. 18, Bailey is remembered in photos as smiling on the flight from Utah to Hawaii on a sibling trip to the island of O’ahu. It was described as the perfect exploration destination for Phil who loved the outdoors and people.

"Phil could just sit down and sit next to somebody and start talking to them, and just almost become their best friend," recalled Stanton.

Last Tuesday, Phil and Stan were snorkeling in a populated area at Shark's Cove. When Stanton reached the shore, Phil was not behind him.

"I immediately jumped back in the water and put my fins on and just kind of retraced our steps," Stanton recalled, "the whole place we went and didn’t see him anywhere."

Rescue divers, helicopters, sea planes and the U.S. Coast Guard searched for days but eventually had to call off the search, leaving Stanton to fly back to Salt Lake City alone.

"It was just horrible," he said. "To be back on the plane coming back without him. It was just gut-wrenching. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so alone around all these other people in my life."

Stanton says he’ll miss adventuring with his brother but finds peace thinking of all the people Phil changed for the better.

"For me it is somewhat comforting to know that he’s in the most beautiful place in the world. Where else would you want your final resting place to be than someplace like that? I think that’s where he would have chosen if he had chosen to go anywhere," Stanton said.

Bailey Family.jpg
Phil Bailey and his family

Bailey's family had already been through a lot recently after two family members died of cancer, and later learned his oldest son was also diagnosed with the disease.

Friends of Bailey's created a GoFundMe page to help his wife and three kids with the unexpected death.