Utah County sheriff's search-and-rescue teams - including divers and K-9 units - resumed efforts Friday to locate a 5-year-old Salt Lake boy who fell into the American Fork River Thursday night.
At approximately 5 p.m., sheriff's dispatchers received a call that the unnamed boy, who was on a family outing to Timpanogos Cave, had fallen into the river near the cave's visitors center and had been swept away by the quickly moving currents.According to sheriff's spokesman Ron Fernstedt, the boy's father attempted to rescue him, but the river - swollen by heavy runoffs from last winter's snowstorms - "was so swift and strong that (the father) was actually lucky to get out."
Sheriff's officials are unsure how the boy fell in the water, Fernstedt said.
"According to the father, he was watching the boy," Fernstedt said. "He turned his back on the boy for a second, and by that time the boy was already in the water."
More than 50 sheriff's officers were on the scene Thursday until approximately 10 p.m. The search was called off late Thursday evening because of darkness and started again Friday morning. Officials say they now fear the boy has drowned.
Sheriff's officers closed American Fork Canyon from its mouth up to Timpanogos Cave Thursday evening while the search was in progress. The canyon was re-opened to the public after the Thursday search was called off. Fernstedt said he anticipates the canyon will remain open.
The incident is the latest in a series of water mishaps throughout the state. Since late June, Utah waters have claimed the lives of seven people in five separate accidents: John C. Whipple, 38, Highland; Eric Larsen, 10, Highland; Jan Schneider, 40, Sandy; Brett Ekberg, 23, Murray; Kristie Switzer Ekberg, 21, Murray; Roy Allen Memmott, 37, Midvale, and Jay Bateman, 7, Centerville.
Another man, Kerri Schiffman, 36, Midvale, disappeared last week after partying with friends along the banks of Little Cottonwood Creek.