Close calls mar holiday weekend
May 30, 2007
A family from the Wasatch Front capsized their boat while fishing at Smith and Morehouse reservoir in the Uinta Mountains Sunday afternoon. Despite the frigid waters all managed to get to shore safely.
"I’m sure they got cold and wet, but the search-and-rescue crews were all cancelled," Rockport State Park chief Steve Hewson said, adding that mostly canoes, tubes and small fishing boats are launched on the lake that is located at the headwaters to the Weber River. "Thankfully, everybody was fine."
A man and his children got out of the water before rescuers arrived, said Darren Schiedel, a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer.
"They ended up in the water," said Don LaFay, commander of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team. "But it was all over by the time we were halfway up there."
When people are submerged into water that is below 50 degrees the possibility of dying from hypothermia spikes, Schiedel stressed.
"Anytime there is a water rescue in these cold lakes, everybody bonds together because that water is so darn cold," he said about Smith and Morehouse, which is situated in Weber Canyon about 13 miles east of Oakley. "I wouldn’t put my foot in it for any length of time because it would go numb."
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Waves from a gust of wind in the canyon capsized the small fishing vessel, Schiedel explained.
"It leaned one way and the wind leaned the other and it just swamped the boat," he said, adding, "they were a ways out."
Meanwhile, a ranger in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest east of Kamas met a 67-year-old man Sunday who was confused and could not find his camp in Murdock Basin.
"He was disoriented," Schiedel said.
Officers couldn’t find the Northern Utah man’s campsite but reunited him with a family member, Schiedel added.
"Strange stuff happens up here more and more," Schiedel said in a telephone interview. "It’s been the usual weekend."
Kamas District Ranger Cathy Kahlow insists the forest was "very busy this weekend."
"The campgrounds were all full and we had a lot more campgrounds open than we usually do for Memorial Day," she said, explaining that snow prohibits areas near the Cobblerest area from opening for the holiday. "Generally, people had a good time."
But at Echo reservoir Saturday night a 2-year-old Utah girl was burned on her face, left arm and hand when she fell into a campfire, said Eric Hales, a spokesman for North Summit Emergency Medical Services.
"Watch your children and keep kids well away from the campfire," he said.
The child will likely recover from the second-degree burns, Hales said, adding that less than 10 percent of her body was burned.
"Second-degree burns are probably the most painful because you have burned the top layer and gotten down right to the nerves," Hales explained. "She was in a lot of pain as you can imagine."
An ambulance took the girl to the University Hospital burn unit.
"They were camping up there around a campfire that had basically been extinguished," Hales said, adding that embers caused the burns. "The father saw this happening and reacted as she was falling so she was in (the fire) a very short time."
Traffic was heavy in Summit County on Memorial Day as campers flocked to the national forest, but Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds expects the number of people arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol last weekend to be down.
UHP troopers, however, issued many citations for "DUIs, seat belts, speed and aggressive driving," said Sgt. Jeff Nigbur, a spokesman for the Utah Highway Patrol. "The best thing about the weekend was that we only had one fatality (in Utah County) when we usually will have a lot more."