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Six people, dog safe after boat capsizes in Willard Bay

Published September 1, 2012 6:54 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Six people and a dog are fine after their boat capsized in Willard Bay on Friday, forcing them to spend several hours in the water.

A family of five from Davis County, their dog and a friend were out boating in the middle of the bay Friday afternoon when a storm came in. Sometime around 5 p.m. or 6 p.m., the waves overtook the bow of their boat and it sank — but not before everyone put on their life jackets and grabbed anything that might float, said Willard Bay park manager James Morgan.

The 62-year-old father, 56-year old mother, their children ages 18, 13 and 11 and an 18-year-old friend held on to wake boards, knee boards and fenders as their boat sank.

They tried to swim to shore, but the journey proved too taxing for the 11-year-old boy, Morgan said. The parents and dog stayed with him and sent the teenagers for help.

The trio made it to the east dike and found Interstate 15, near mile marker 355, where they flagged down a Utah Highway Patrol trooper, Morgan said. The trooper in turn notified the bay about the capsized family — by then, it was already 11:15 p.m.

More than 30 people from Box Elder County Search and Rescue, the Box Elder County Sheriff's Office, the Willard Police Department, UHP and Utah State Parks searched the bay with boats, a helicopter and the shores on foot.

By about 1 a.m., the parents, child and dog found their own way to shore, where rescuers spotted them minutes later.

Everyone was taken to a local hospital for possible hypothermia, but they were all released Saturday morning healthy, but exhausted, Morgan said.

"It was obviously cold and tiring, but they're doing well," he said.

Morgan recommends anyone going out on the bay to have life vests at hand, which he said proved a great help to the rescued group. It's much more difficult to put vests on after you're in the water, he said.

Park employees were still searching for the sunken boat as of Saturday afternoon.

mmcfall@sltrib.com