Attempts to find two Salt Lake County youths stranded in Utah Lake paid off Wednesday night, as one was found several miles away from his stranded waverunner and the other took rescue efforts into her own hands.
At approximately 10:30 p.m., Utah County sheriff's search and rescue teams found Justin Hose, 18, Sandy, near Sandy Beach. Hose, who was suffering from hypothermia, was taken by the Spanish Fork Ambulance Association to Mountain View Hospital in Payson for treatment. After finding Hose, rescue teams, including nearly two dozen sheriff's officers, stepped up efforts to find his companion, Lori Lee Halverson, 17, Salt Lake City.Nearly two hours later, sheriff's officials received a call that Halverson had been taken by fishermen, who found her near Bird Island, to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo. Hal-ver-son, who is described as a strong swimmer, actually swam ashore to try to help search efforts for Hose, as well as rescue herself. That swim, in chilly waters with waves as high as four feet, took her much of the way through the lake's nearly 15 miles.
"That must have been a heck of a swim," said Utah County Sheriff's spokesman Ron R. Fernstedt. "But we're just happy to have these kids safe and in one piece."
Both teens were treated for hypothermia at the hospitals early Thursday morning. After emergency room officials were satisfied the teens had recovered sufficiently, they were released to their families just hours later. Halverson and Hose are reportedly tired but in good spirits. Family members said the two had asked about each other's condition.
The teens, who were unfamiliar with Utah Lake, left with another couple on rented waverunners at the American Fork Boat Harbor, on the lake's extreme north end, at approximately 1 p.m. However, their watercraft broke down while the two couples were cruising around the lake's border an hour later. The other couple went for help, but when they returned they could not find Halverson and Hose and subsequently contacted Utah County sheriff's officials.
Search efforts officially began about 4 p.m., with search and rescue teams on waverunners trying to locate the teens. At 8 p.m., searchers found the couple's waverunner partially submerged, but neither teen nearby.
"We were hoping that wasn't a bad sign," Fernstedt said, adding that Wednesday night's search was especially intense as searchers hoped to find the two alive. "But we were lucky; the kids were definitely lucky."
Initially, search teams were hampered by relatively high winds, which made going on the lake a choppy experience, especially for officials on boats and waverunners.
An aerial search was called off by the sheriff's department at 10 p.m. because of darkness.
Fernstedt said the two evidently swam off in separate directions to find help, since the other couple had not returned after an hour.
Both teens were wearing wetsuits and lifejackets. Nursing supervisors at both hospitals, as well as search officials, say the equipment may have saved their lives. Because of windy conditions, temperatures on the lake had dropped to near-freezing in some places.