Search continues for 16-year-old drowning victim at Pineview Reservoir

Crews responded to Pineview Reservoir's Middle Inlet area in an attempt to recover the body of a 16-year-old drowning victim on Sunday, July 18. Photo: Weber County Sheriff's Office

PINEVIEW RESERVOIR/WEBER COUNTY, Utah, July 19, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Teams remain on the scene at Pineview Reservoir’s Middle Inlet after overnight recovery efforts to find the body of a 16-year-old swimmer were unsuccessful.

“They will continue searching in the Middle Inlet area,” a statement from the Weber County Sheriff’s Office says. “We ask that you avoid the area to allow for our teams to search.”

Lt. Cortney Ryan, Weber County Sheriff’s Office, told Gephardt Daily Sunday the 911 call came in at about 5:45 p.m., reporting a possible drowning.

“Our marine patrol responded and found that a group of teen-aged boys were out swimming, attempting to swim across the inlet here,” Ryan said. “And one of them — a 16-year-old male — went under.”

“They made it halfway across the lake and realized they were tiring out, and went to turn back, and that’s when the one couldn’t stay above the water.”

The three other boys were able to make it out of the water safely.

Ryan said the teens tried to go over the area to look for their friend but were unable to locate him during the initial search.

“The search and rescue team is out searching for him now. It’s a recovery effort,” Ryan said.

Ryan said this is the fourth death of the season resulting from a drowning. One victim who had remained hospitalized for weeks died this weekend, he said. Prior to this season, Pineview had had no drowning deaths in four years, he said.

Ryan said the water was about 70 degrees in that area because it’s a little shallower. In other parts of the reservoir, the temperature Sunday was roughly high 60s at the surface and gets a little colder the deeper you go into the water, he said.

When it’s 100 degrees outside and only 70 in the water, “it takes a toll on your body and makes you wear out a little quicker and tire out,” he explained.

Apparently, the teens were at Pineview on their own without any family members.

Describing the recovery effort, Ryan said, “We have our search and rescue team here — obviously our divers. We have a drone team that’s scouring the area. We also have a boat that has sonar.

“So they’re in the water searching by hand and by feel, and at the surface searching with the sonar, and the drone searching by air.”

He said there’s not much of a current in the area, “but the water is so murky and dark that once you get a couple feet under the water, you can’t see in front of you very well. It really is a search by feel.”

The divers form a chain and swim in one direction, then come back, and search in another direction.

Ryan said eight or 10 divers were on scene and would rotate and search until dark. The sonar boat will continue the search, and if something is found, the divers would be called back.

That search was unsuccessful, so divers returned to the scene Monday morning.

“These guys are a dedicated group and won’t leave until the body is recovered.”

Ryan said the 16-year-old victim is believed to be from Weber County.

“As far as we know, there was no alcohol involved. And no life jackets,” he said. “Life jackets more than probably would have prevented this situation.”

He added that, considering the distance the teens were from the shore, it definitely would have been better to have a life jacket. He estimated the water in that area is 10 feet deep.


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