Diana Kratzer stood on the grassy shore of the community pond, watching as her husband taught his Boy Scout troop to swim.

One child was struggling, so Wesley Robert Kratzer swam over and tried to help. Diana Kratzer looked down at her phone for a few moments, and by the time she looked back up, he was gone.

She never saw her husband alive again.

At first, she and his family held out hope as divers searched the murky waters of Salem Pond in Utah County because they knew he was a good swimmer and a skilled outdoorsman who had swam there before.

"We were hoping until the last moment that they would find him, that he went somewhere, maybe to the car, or to the restroom, that he would be found," said his stepmother, Irina Kratzer.

Diana Kratzer said she had those hopes, too, but they were dashed when the police and ambulance arrived. After about an hour of searching by feel, divers had found Wesley Kratzer’s body under about 12 feet of water.

“The team [of first responders] did everything they could so he could survive or something, but he was already gone,” Diana Kratzer told The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday.

The 22-year-old Boy Scout leader had drowned saving the boy.

“We don’t know if it was fatigue, we don’t know if he cramped up. We may never know,” Salem police Chief Brad James said. Members of the group — including two other adults and three 11- and 12-year-old boys — were not wearing life jackets, police said.

Although Wesley Kratzer had been a troop leader for only a couple of months, he was a lifelong Boy Scout who loved helping kids learn the wilderness skills he treasured, his family said Thursday.

Younger children had always looked up to the Orem man who had blond hair, a wide smile and dreams of becoming a successful entrepreneur.

"He was very nurturing, compassionate, like he looked through your eyes and went straight to your soul," his sister Lindy Kratzer said.

Salem Pond is shown Thursday, July 19, 2018, in Salem, Utah. A Boy Scout leader has drowned on Wednesday, after saving a boy struggling in the Utah pond. Authorities say Wesley Robert Kratzer was watching over a group of 10-and-11-year-old boys learning swimming techniques when one started having trouble in the water. Kratzer pushed the boy to safety then dropped under the water and disappeared. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)


Diana Kratzer said her husband had dreamed about living in the middle of nowhere and surviving off the land, though his polite, gregarious nature also made him a natural salesman. He used to buy ice-cream bars and to sell them to women in the neighborhood with a price tag $5 apiece. He was working as a sales representative at a quarry in Provo before he died.

He wanted to become wealthy so he could support a future family with Diana; they had married in February.

His death rescuing a child makes a tragic kind of sense for the young man who always looked out for others, family members said.

“Yet another good deed. That happened to be where he needed to be,” said his father, Tay Kratzer.

Diana Kratzer agreed, saying her husband had done little things all the time that made him a hero, like never hesitating to lend a hand when asked, no matter how tired he was.

“Doesn’t have to be something big so he can be a hero, right?” she said. “He always helped his family. He always helped me and the people around him, like the church leaders would call him last minute to do this [or] this.”

The Boy Scout whom Wesley Kratzer had pushed to safety was not injured, though the troop is mourning.

"They're really shook up," James said.

Wesley Kratzer’s death has been “extremely difficult” for his Scouting community, according to a statement from David Pack, president of the Utah Parks Council, which serves Scouts in central and southern Utah.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family, and we will support them in any way that we can," Pack said.

Just over 24 hours after her husband’s death, Diana Kratzer said she hasn’t even begun to think about what comes next for her. She said she can’t even predict what will happen tomorrow at this point.

So far, she’s “cried [her] eyes out," grappling with the realization that the man she planned to spent the rest of her life with is gone.

(Courtesy Diana Kratzer) Diana and Wesley Robert Kratzer


The two had met at a New Year’s Eve party at his parents' house about a year and a half ago. She said she knew he was the one by the way he served God and treated her as a priority in his life.

“He was just the happiest and the most calm guy ever. Whenever I would be in a stressful situation, he would be by my side all the time," Diana Kratzer said.

She said she wants people to remember her husband was great person who had a great soul.

“And that I love him a lot,” she said, her voice waning to a near whisper, “and I always will.”

Medical examiners will perform an autopsy to determine Wesley Kratzer’s cause of death.

Salem Pond is a popular summer spot about 60 miles south of Salt Lake City, complete with picnic tables and pavilions, bordered by mountains in the distance.

There have been a handful of drownings there in the past two decades.