Boating Safety Urged on Lake Powell After Two Serious Accidents

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Date: August 3, 2016
Contact: Christiana Admiral, 928-608-6351

After two serious recent watercraft accidents, one of them fatal, Visitor and Resource Protection rangers at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area are urging boaters to pay closer attention to safety on the water.

On Thursday, July 28, two personal watercraft collided in Iceberg Canyon on Lake Powell. One of the riders, a 23-year-old man from Denver, CO, died in the accident. Rangers dispatched to the scene found the man's 15-year-old brother, who had been operating the other personal watercraft in the crash, in serious condition. He was flown by air ambulance to a hospital in Grand Junction, CO. After treatment there, the teen was released the next day. The accident is under investigation by the San Juan County Sheriff's Office and the National Park Service.

On Sunday, July 24 at around 8 p.m., a runabout boat carrying a family of five from Phoenix struck a rock near Stanton Creek on Lake Powell while they were boating after dark. Three children were ejected from the boat, one of them an 8-year-old boy whose left arm and left leg were amputated by the boat propeller. The boy's 8-year-old stepbrother found him face down in the water, turned him over and rescue-swam him to shore, where he delivered mouth-to-mouth breaths. The two adults pulled all three children (wearing lifejackets) back into the boat and returned to Bullfrog Marina, where a helpful bystander gave them a ride to the Bullfrog Clinic. There, rangers met the vehicle and used tourniquets and padding to stop the bleeding. The boy was airlifted to Phoenix Children's Hospital, where surgery was performed to reattach his arm. The accident is under investigation by Utah State Parks. 

In the aftermath of these tragic accidents, Lance Mattson, acting Chief Ranger at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, urged boaters to put safety first.He said boaters should stay in the main channel and follow the buoys that mark it, especially at night. "If you will be boating after dark, use GPS to lay a good track in daylight hours to follow back in the dark," Mattson said.

Billy Shott, superintendent of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, said Lake Powell averages six drowning deaths a year, the majority of which could be prevented by something as simple as wearing a life jacket. "It kills me to see family vacations end abruptly in tragedy," Shott said. "No one comes to Lake Powell expecting to have a family member leave on a medivac flight."


Last updated: August 4, 2016

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