SAND HOLLOW STATE PARK — Three people were injured when two recreational watercraft collided during a family outing at Sand Hollow Reservoir Monday afternoon.
Updated Oct. 7, 6:20 p.m. Utah State Parks officials confirmed Wednesday that the 11-year-old boy, identified as Ethan David Law of Chandler, Arizona, died from his injuries Tuesday evening. A family photo of him has been added.
Sand Hollow State Park manager Jonathan Hunt said the incident, which occurred around 2:30 p.m., was initially paged as a possible drowning.
“They said they were in the water screaming for help,” Hunt told St. George News. “Our state park rangers were at the boat dock, and we responded right away.”
By the time the rangers arrived at the scene, a passerby had brought the injured people to the shoreline and CPR was in progress on the most severely injured person, who was described as an 11-year-old boy.
The other two people aboard the watercraft were an adult male and a younger boy, Hunt said.
“It looks like a couple of young kids and a father were injured,” he said, adding that trio was part of a larger family group that had traveled up from Arizona on vacation.
“Hurricane Medical responded just minutes later and was able to take over the medical response and transport him to the hospital,” Hunt said, adding that two additional ambulances also arrived and took the other two injured patients to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George.
Hunt said the man who’d been driving the Yamaha sustained various injuries, including head injuries, while the younger boy appeared to be complaining of back pain, although he was reportedly alert and moving around on the shore. The 11-year-old boy’s injuries were believed to be critical and life-threatening.
Hunt said the cause of the incident is still under investigation but added that driver impairment is not suspected at this time.
“Two boats collided is basically what happened, but we’re not sure if they were following too close or trying to cross each other’s path. But it looks like the one boat hit into the other.”
The watercraft, one of which was a white Kawasaki Jet Ski and the other a dark blue Yamaha WaveRunner, had both been rented from the rental shop by members of the same family group, Hunt said.
The three people who were injured had all been aboard the Yamaha, he said, adding that it was not immediately clear how many people were aboard the Kawasaki.
“On the one machine, everyone was injured and doesn’t remember what happened,” Hunt said. “We didn’t hear of any injuries on the other boat, but we’re going to talk to them in our follow-up investigation.”
The place where the collision reportedly happened was not far from shore, approximately a half-mile east of the rental and concessionaire shop on the reservoir’s south beach. The weather was reportedly sunny and clear at the time of the incident, with very few boats on the reservoir.
“There were maybe 10 boats on the lake,” Hunt said. “It wasn’t crowded.”
Hunt said it was fortunate that everyone on both of the watercraft appears to have been wearing a life jacket at the time of the collision. He said the rental shop always sends people out with life jackets and emphasizes the importance of wearing them.
“Especially on a personal watercraft, life jackets are always required,” Hunt said. “If anything ever happens, you’ll be floating if they tip over, and these machines tip over all the time. So, you always want to have a life jacket on when riding a (personal watercraft).”
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