Crews call off search for the night on Strawberry Reservoir

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WASATCH COUNTY -- Search crews scoured Strawberry Reservoir all day Tuesday for the body of a man who fell out of a boat on Memorial Day. The Wasatch County Sheriff's Office calls it a recovery effort now.

Deputies say three friends initially planned to fish from the shore of the reservoir, but instead decided to rent a boat from the Strawberry Bay Marina. As it turned out, that was a fatal choice.

It was late in the day when 26-year-old Christopher Tyler Barton, of Salt Lake City, stood at the front of the boat. Wasatch County Sheriff Todd Bonner said he somehow fell into the water between the pontoons in the middle of the reservoir.

"He was yelling for help as the boat passed over the top of him," Bonner said.

Barton's friends threw a life preserver but could not reach him.

"That's when they entered the water as well to help out," Bonner said. "That was the last they saw of him."

As their friend slipped under, the other two found themselves quickly in danger in the cold water. A woman and her family in their boat spotted one of those men bobbing in the water.

On the phone Thursday afternoon, the woman said she and her family pulled the man on board, and he told them his friend was gone.

The family called 911 and headed for the pontoon boat, where they found the other man clinging to a rope, shivering; but Barton was gone.

Barton's father told the sheriff his son was nervous around the water and had a hard time swimming.

The Summit County Search and Rescue team and the state dive team helped out with water search equipment.

"We've also had the Department of Public Safety with their helicopter searching the area shorelines, as well as the water, but haven't come up with anything at this point," Bonner said.

The sheriff says the men were drinking, but he isn't sure what affect that had.

"Any time you have alcohol involved in any type of recreational activity -- I mean, things happen, and unfortunately this is a bad situation," Bonner said.

The Sheriff says the two men rescued from the water will be OK.

Searchers have left the reservoir for the night but plan to resume the search first thing Wednesday morning.


Story compiled with contributions from Jed Boal and Becky Bruce.

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