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18-year-old Venezuelan man drowns trying to rescue family member at Deer Creek State Park

Sunday was a warm day, but the reservoir was cold and conditions were choppy and windy.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The eastern finger of Deer Creek Reservoir is photographed in July 2021. An 18-year-old man drowned Sunday at Deer Creek State Park.

An 18-year-old man drowned Sunday at Deer Creek State Park after trying to help a family member struggling in the water, according to a Utah State Parks news release.

A recovery team retrieved the body of John Ballan on Sunday night from Deer Creek Reservoir, located up Provo Canyon southwest of Heber.

Ballan, from Zulia, Venezuela, had been visiting the park with friends and family on Sunday afternoon. When one of his family members went into the water near the Sailboat Beach area to swim, they began to struggle to keep their head above water, the release stated.

The 18-year-old jumped in to help, but then he began to struggle as well. Witnesses arrived to help the swimmers, but only the family member survived. Ballan drowned.

“The Utah Division of State Parks extends our condolences to Ballan’s friends and family impacted by this tragedy,” the agency said in a statement.

Sunday was a warm day, with highs in the mid-80s, the release stated. But the water temperature was a chilly 64 degrees, and conditions on the reservoir were choppy and windy.

Neither Ballan nor the family member he attempted to help were wearing life jackets, according to the release.

The drowning remains under investigation.