UPDATE: Mother who died rescuing 2-year-old son during Lake Powell outing identified

Chelsey J. Russell. Photo: Welborn, Sullivan, Meck & Tooley, Attorneys at Law

LAKE POWELL, Utah, Aug. 25, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — A 33-year-old mother who died after rescuing her 2-year-old son from the waters of Lake Powell has been identified.

Chelsey J. Russell, of Lakewood, Colo., was declared dead after CPR was administered for 30 minutes, San Juan County Sheriff’s Office said in a prepared statement Thursday afternoon. Neither Russell nor the child was wearing a life jacket, police said.

Russell and family members were boating in the Halls Cross area of the lake when her toddler son fell overboard. Russell dove into the water as family members tried to stop the main boat. Russell’s brother jumped into a smaller boat that was being towed, and raced to his sister and nephew’s side.

San Juan County Sheriff Rick Eldredge told Gephardt Daily the brother grabbed the child, who began to cry, but by the time the brother got Russell into the boat, she was unconscious.

“She was still, for whatever reason, able to keep the baby on her chest, whether conscious or unconscious,” Eldredge said.

CPR began in the boat as the victim was taken to the Hall’s Crossing Marina where it continued for approximately 30 minutes more, police said. Russell was then pronounced dead.

Russell is listed as an associate at a law firm, Welborn, Sullivan, Meck & Tooley, which has bases in Denver, Casper, Wyo., and Salt Lake City. The firm posted a statement in memory of Russell on its website Thursday: “Chelsey was an amazing mother, an exceptional legal talent, an extraordinary athlete, a loyal and generous friend, and left us all better for knowing her. She is sorely missed.”

The law firm’s page about Russell states: “Ms. Russell was born and raised in Denver. After graduating with a BSBA in General Business from the University of Denver, she worked her way from land associate to landman for a local oil and gas exploration and development company.

“Ms. Russell received her JD from the University of Denver in 2011, where she was a contributor to the Race to the Bottom Blog, a nationally recognized student/faculty collaborative corporate governance blog. Ms. Russell is actively involved in her community and enjoys running marathons, hiking, skiing, and spending time with her family.”

“There are no words to convey the tragedy of losing a loved one like this. Our hearts are with the family and friends of the victims during this time of unexpected pain and loss,” said Teri Tucker, acting superintendent for Glen Canyon Recreational Area.

The 2-year-old son was flown by medical helicopter to a hospital in Flagstaff, Ariz., but has now been released.

The incident remains under investigation.

Chelsey J. Russell with her children. Photo: Welborn, Sullivan, Meck & Tooley, Attorneys at Law
Chelsey J. Russell with her children. Photo: Welborn, Sullivan, Meck & Tooley, Attorneys at Law



  1. God bless her and her family! Please wear a life jacket…..even if it seems unnecessary. Please wear you seat-belt and get vaccinated. I have friends a family who don’t do the above. Please don’t do crazy things that risk your life and health. I have friends and neighbors that do flips on motorcycles (paralyzed), take dares to swim across a lake (dead), hang glide (dead), mountain climb (dead), smoke (brother dead at 54…millionaire), get health check up (mother dead at 58 breast cancer)….etc. Think before you take risk….Life is so so precious you do not have to take unsafe risk to enjoy and have fun. Choose the right kind of Adrenaline rush!

Leave a Reply to Hal Cancel reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here