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Date: June 29, 2018

National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior


For Immediate Release: June 29, 2018
Release No.: 2018-26
Contact: 702-293-8691


BOULDER CITY, Nevada – June 24, in the darkness of night during high winds and heavy waves, Lake Mead National Recreation Area park rangers rescued 17 people after one vessel sank and another became swamped.

At 1:55 a.m. June 24, the Lake Mead Interagency Communication Center received a 911 call. The dispatcher could only hear faint screams for help. It was later learned that the caller was treading water while holding his cell phone in his mouth.

Enhanced 911 GPS coordinates placed the party in the area of Lover’s Cove just west of Callville Bay on Lake Mead (

Rangers responded on two vessels. When they arrived, they only saw a distant light in the water.

“Upon inspection of the light, rangers found a partially submerged vessel with only the bow visible above the waterline. There were nine people, including two children in the water,” said Matt Stark, acting deputy chief ranger. “Multiple victims were not wearing life jackets, including an infant. All were reaching a point of exhaustion after swimming in the water for over an hour.”

Rangers pulled the people from the water and aboard a National Park Service vessel. Rangers provided medical care to a 1-year-old child and a pregnant woman.

A second National Park Service vessel recovered an additional eight people from shore who were associated with the party recovered from the water. Stark said this group was stranded after their boat became swamped and inoperable.  

All 17 people were transported to Callville Bay Marina. A Community Ambulance transported two juveniles and one adult to a local hospital as a precaution for water inhalation. 

“Our rangers are highly-skilled and proficient in search and rescue and medical care. Their ability to apply critical thinking under such intense pressure is remarkable,” said Lizette Richardson, park superintendent.

“The park recently received the highest award bestowed by the National Park Service for outstanding public safety achievement due to its commitment to prevent serious injuries or fatalities,” she added. “Our visitors are in great hands, thanks to this extraordinary team.”  

The incident is under investigation. Stark said initial reports indicate the cause of the boat accidents is believed to be a combination of the vessels being overloaded and hazardous weather.

According to the National Weather Service, the park’s automated weather stations in the area at the time of the incident indicated wind speeds up to 30 miles per hour with gusts as high as 38 miles per hour.

“Wave conditions measured between one and two feet. However, wave heights can be much higher in localized areas of the lake due to the topographical features, which enhance the wave action. This is especially true near the shoreline and constricted areas such as coves or narrows,” said Todd Lericos, meteorologist-in-charge, National Weather Service. “It is reasonable to assume given the conditions that night waves may have been as high as three to four feet at the time and location of the incident.”

Prior to visiting the lake, visitors are encouraged to remember the acrostic LAKE:

L – Life jackets save lives. Wear it!
A – Alcohol, if you drink it, don’t drive or operate a vessel.
K – Know the weather. Know your limits.
E – Eyes on your kids. Eyes on the water. Eyes on fellow boaters.


Last updated: July 2, 2018

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