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Fourth deadly drowning at Pineview Reservoir this summer sparks conversations about prevention

Posted at 4:35 PM, Jul 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-19 19:15:57-04

HUNTSVILLE, Utah — On Monday afternoon, search and rescue crews recovered the body of a 16-year-old boy who drowned in Pineview Reservoir the day before. The teenager was attempting to swim across the reservoir when he went underwater and drowned in the Middle Inlet area of the reservoir, Lt. Cortney Ryan with the Weber County Sheriff's Office said.

Crews searched for the teen from about 5:45 p.m. Sunday through 1 a.m. and then started back Monday morning at 7 a.m., until his body was recovered around 2:30 p.m. Weber County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue led the search with help from Utah Highway Patrol. Drones, K-9 teams, sonar boats, divers, kayakers, and volunteers all assisted in the search.

Sunday’s drowning marks the fourth deadly drowning at Pineview Reservoir this summer. Previously, there hadn’t been a fatal drowning at the reservoir since 2017.

Local leaders, alongside federal forest service members, are actively looking at ways to help stop the troubling trend.

“The second one was shocking and tragic," Weber Fire District Deputy Fire Chief David Reed said. "The third one, it was when we started to get together [to make a plan],” he said.

Reed says the goal is to implement an education system, as well as some sort of life jacket loaner system. Leaders are actively working to make this happen.

READ: Man taken off life support, dies weeks after swimming accident at Pineview

“When that 25-year-old went out and tried to help those kids and ended up drowning and that was the third time this year, we came together from a lot of different angles and said, ‘OK, it is time to do something, we need to do something,’" he said. "It just hasn’t been implemented, and then we have this one."

Each idea must be vetted, Reed said, and some logistically don't make sense, such as lifeguards. The goal is to figure out a plan that will be successful.

“If you look out and you see how big the beach is out here, it is incredibly large, a lot of beach space. It would be impossible to do lifeguards," he said.

A group of aquatics professionals started the Utah Drowning Prevention Coalition this year because they saw a need for more drowning prevention education, spokeswoman McKell Christensen.

“Our biggest goal is to just get the word out about things that save lives, so life jackets and getting resources to people who need them,” she said.

READ: After 4 drownings in 4 days, Utah aquatics community shares message

Life jackets are crucial for preventing drownings, Christensen said.

“I think a lot of it is this stigma that once people are adults they don’t need life vests anymore, so just getting rid of that and educating that life jackets save lives no matter how old they are,” she said.

Reed echoed the sentiment, urging people to not take chances.

“You’ve got to plan ahead. When you are swimming in water, if you go past your knee, have a life vest on. It is just not worth it. If you are going to swim for any distance, have that rowboat or canoe with you and have a couple vests in there,” he said.

Utah Lake is beginning a Life Jacket Loaner Program. For more information, click here.

For more information on the Utah Drowning Prevention Coalition, click here.