Recent rescues at Sand Hollow Reservoir underscore importance of life jackets

SAND HOLLOW STATE PARK — Two people were rescued from the chilly waters of Sand Hollow Reservoir on Monday afternoon when the personal watercraft they were riding on capsized.

Sand Hollow Reservoir, Hurricane, Utah, March 29, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Both adult occupants of the WaveRunner escaped injury thanks to the fact that they were wearing life jackets, Sand Hollow State Park manager Jonathan Hunt told St. George News.

“They tried to get back on board that WaveRunner, and they couldn’t because it was filled with water,” Hunt said. “Luckily, the people on the shoreline called 911 and we were able to go out there, where we found them wearing life jackets. We simply pulled them on our boat and got them and the WaveRunner back to shore.”

Hunt said the incident underscores the importance of wearing personal flotation devices, especially when the water is cold.

“I just got off the boat right now, and the water was 52 degrees, which is pretty chilly,” he said. “A lot of people are enjoying the sandy beach, but they’re not jumping in the lake on purpose. We do have people waterskiing because it’s nice and sunny, but that water’s cold.”

Windy conditions can also present a hazard, Hunt noted.

“Today, it’s windy enough that if someone has an incident near the shoreline, they drift farther and farther and farther away,” he said. “So someone on the shoreline without a boat is basically unable to help.”

Boating safety signs at Sand Hollow State Park, Hurricane, Utah, March 29, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Hunt said it’s a good idea to have a second boat or someone with a set of eyes on the shoreline.

Monday’s incident follows a similar call at the reservoir last week, when a fisherman called 911 after his kayak had capsized.

“When he initially called 911, he was feeling fine,” Hunt said. “By the time we got there, he was shivering uncontrollably and needed medical attention. So, in the space of just a few minutes, you can go from ‘This is chilly’ to ‘I can’t move.’”

Hunt said the fisherman, who was wearing an inflatable life jacket, was also fortunate that his cell phone was still operable.

“His kayak floated away, and he held on to a small rock in the lake and called for help,” he said. “It was 11:30 at night and could have turned out totally different. Luckily his wet cell phone still worked. But late at night, overnight, and cold water is not a good recipe.”

Weather is expected to get warmer throughout this week, Hunt said as he encouraged all who recreate at Sand Hollow to be vigilant in following safety rules.

“Our boating season will really kick off this weekend,” he said. “The weather is expected to be in the mid 80s which will bring a lot of boats out to the lake.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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