Sevier Co. Sheriff releases new information in fatal Fish Lake capsizing

Photo: Sevier County Sheriff's Office

FISH LAKE, Sevier County, Utah, Oct. 24, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office has released details after the recovery of a 13-year-old victim’s body in Fish Lake.

The teen had been fishing early Friday morning with his father before their boat capsized. The boy’s father, Christopher Winslow, 36, of Cedar City, was rescued by boaters and survived the incident.

Sevier County Search and Rescuers were called to the scene at 8:06 a.m. Friday, the SCSO statement says.

“Christopher had been fishing all night with his 13-year-old son and another friend. At 3:14 a.m. Christopher had dropped the friend off at the Fishlake Lodge Marina and went back out fishing with his son,” it says.

“Between 5:14 a.m. and 5:21 a.m., the boat Christopher and his son were in capsized. Neither were wearing a life jacket at the time of the accident.”

Photo: Sevier County Sheriff’s Office

The water temperature was estimated at 53 degrees, the statement says.

“Christopher and his son attempted to call 911 but the call was not able to make a good connection and was dropped. Emergency dispatchers were only able to get a cell tower location, and the call went dead. Dispatchers attempted several times to call the number back without any success.

“Christopher and his son were holding onto opposite ends of the boat. At some point the son succumbed to the exposure, let go of the boat, and began sinking. Christopher swam down to bring his son back to the surface, but he was unable to.”

At approximately 7:30 a.m., some fisherman on Fish Lake had turned their boat motor off to reel in a fish, “and they could hear someone yelling,” the Sheriff’s statement says.

“They found Christopher holding onto the capsized boat on the east side of Fish Lake, approximately 1000 feet from the closest shoreline. They pulled him into their boat and brought him to the shore where immediate lifesaving measure taken. Christopher was suffering from exposure to the cold water.

“Christopher told them his 13-year-old son was with him. The fishermen had not seen the 13-year-old when they were at the boat.”

Fishlake Lodge employees returned to the area of the capsized boat and began searching while waiting for SAR and EMT crews to arrive. Winslow was transported to the hospital as crews began a larger-scale search.

The search

“They were not successful in locating him on the surface of the water. There was a debris field of items from the boat on the surface of the water, while following those items they were not able to locate any sign of him. Sevier County Search and rescue divers began calling for more assistance as the depth of lake where the boat and the debris field were over 100 feet deep. At an elevation of 9000 feet above sea level this becomes a dangerous dive.”

Utah Department of Public Safety divers were called in, and other agencies involved included the Utah Fire Marshal’s office, Utah State Parks Rangers, and Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office.

At 8:30 p.m. Saturday, crews were able to locate the boy’s body at a depth of about 106 feet.

That depth is about the height of a 10-story building.

The body was brought to the shore, where a medical examiner investigator and Sevier County Sheriff’s Office investigators were waiting.

During the Saturday morning search, a family member informed the sheriff’s department of an app, “Life 360,” used by family members. The last location on the father and son’s phone at the time of the Saturday 911 call allowed searchers to pinpoint a search area, which was outside the original search area, and led to the recovery of the body.

“If it had not been for the family and the app information they provided, we would not have found him as quick as we did,” Sheriff Nathan Curtis said in the statement. “We would have found him eventually, but not near as quickly.

“I want to thank all our partners from the Utah DPS dive team, Utah State Parks, Utah Fire Marshall’s office, and the Wasatch County Sheriff’s search and rescue team. They provided resources that we do not have in our county and because of their help we were able to bring this young man home to his family to hopefully provide some comfort in this tragedy.

“I want to thank the Sevier County Search and Rescue and EMT volunteers for their support and response to this mission. And all the search and rescue teams who reached out to offer help, you truly make difference.”

The Sevier County Sheriff and Sheriff’s Office offers its sincerest condolences to the Winslow family for their loss, the statement concluded.

 

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