UTAH COUNTY, Utah, May 16, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah County Sheriff’s Department has released the names of two brothers found dead from apparent drowning in Utah Lake on Sunday after they failed to return from a wave runner outing.
“The bodies of two men recovered earlier today from Utah Lake are believed to be those of Jorge Anica, age 33, and his brother, Manuel Anica, age 21, both of West Valley City,” the UCSO statement says.
The men drove a pickup carrying the water craft from West Valley City to Utah Lake on Saturday, and unloaded the craft from the Knolls area, on the west side of Utah Lake.
One man’s wife called officials when the two failed to return as expected. Responding officials found a truck associated with the men, and cell phones belonging to each man were found in the vehicle.
A witness reported seeing both men head out at about 7 p.m. Saturday after one man returned to shore to pick up the other on the single craft, originally described as a jet ski.
Utah County Sheriff spokesman Sgt. Spencer Cannon said in an update Sunday that the area was searched for about two hours overnight by a Department of Public Safety helicopter, without results.
“Then this morning, we got our search and rescue team back out here,” Cannon said.
“They found the personal watercraft a little before 9 a.m. this morning. It was is about 7 and a half feet of water. At about 9:37, they found one of the victims, and just a few minutes later found the second victim. They were close to each other, but they did not survive.”
Both were wearing life jackets, Cannon said, adding if he doesn’t know if the men were found face up or face down near the surface of the water. There was wind the night before, “but it was not very severe,” he said.
“The water temperature now is at 57 degrees. It’s not easy to do well for very long in water that’s that temperature. The problem with being in water that temperature is you lose the ability to think clearly after a period of time, you lose strength in your muscles, and it becomes very very difficult to think clearly and to function physically, so we don’t know yet if there might have been some type of an injury involved that precipitated their going into the lake, or if it was just simply they fell off the water craft and went into the water.”
Both bodies have been recovered, Cannon said, and will be taken to the Medical Examiner’s office to determine cause of death.
“We certainly don’t expect any surprises here,” he said. “In circumstances like this, it looks like they probably drowned.”
Life jackets help but are not perfect, Cannon said, adding that the search could have taken days or weeks if the men were not found on the surface due to the jackets.