UTAH COUNTY – A trio of duck hunters and their dog have an extremely close call on Utah Lake. They became stranded in nearly freezing water and public safety officials say they could have died had they stayed out much longer.
When the hunters started their trip on Utah Lake, near Lincoln Beach, officials with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office say the weather was just fine. However, the weather got worse, quickly, and the boat became swamped.
The hunters were in chest-high water, so they were able to walk. However, Sergeant Spencer Cannon says even just walking in 36 degree water can be extremely dangerous.
“The body loses temperature 24 times faster in water than it does in the air,” according to Cannon.
Plus, the men had another obstacle in their way.
Cannon says, “One of the things that really complicated it is that they had these Phragmites, which are basically wet grasses that are eight to ten, or 12 feet tall.”
Trudging through the swampy grassland really slowed them down, Cannon says. They were in the water for roughly an hour, and Cannon says it’s not a stretch to believe they’d be dead if they were in it for much longer.
“Getting through that [grass] complicates getting through the water, with the wind and the waves. They had 800 to 1,000 yards that they had to wade their way through, not knowing if the direction they were going was exactly right, or not,” Cannon says.
Only one of the men had waders to keep him dry, but all three were wearing their life jackets. Cannon says that was a very smart decision, even if the hunters didn’t need to swim.
“Even if they had become incapacitated, they would have, in all likelihood, been able to keep their heads above water,” he adds.
The dog had to swim alongside his human companions. Cannon says once the dog saw the rescue truck, he immediately jumped inside and positioned himself right next to the heater.
Cannon says none of the men are expected to have long-term health problems because of this.
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