Police ID Boy Scout leader who drowned saving child at Salem Pond

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SALEM — Police identified a Boy Scout leader on Thursday who drowned after he tried to save a child who was struggling in the water at Salem Pond Wednesday evening.

Wesley Robert Kratzer, 22, of Orem, drowned after pushing a child back to shore toward safety, Salem Police Chief Brad James said.

Emergency divers found Kratzer in an area about 12 feet underwater 50 minutes after he first went under, officials said. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.

What caused Kratzer to submerge underwater remains under investigation.

“We don’t know if he cramped up, we don’t know if he was fatigued, we don’t know if he had a medical problem. We don’t know,” James said.

Kratzer’s body was sent to the state medical examiner’s office for an autopsy Thursday.

Family members said Kratzer was the type of person to always offer help.

His wife, Diana Krazter, was at the pond when he drowned.

"Nothing prepares you for this moment and this time," she said.

Diana Krazter called her husband a hero, "not only for saving that kid, but for being a nice person and a great example for all of us."

The couple had just married in February.

Tay Kratzer said his son was "just the kind of darling son that anybody would want."

He added that Wesley Kratzer was thoughtful and never hesitated to show his family how much he loved them.

"We come here to earth, really, to learn love. And Wesley learned that," Tay Kratzer said.

David Pack, CEO of the Boy Scouts of America's Utah National Parks Council issued the following statement Thursday:

"This is an extremely difficult time for our Scouting family. We are sad to confirm the death of one of our adult volunteers following a drowning incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim's family and we will support them in any way that we can.

The Kratzer family hopes to gain answers from the autopsy on what may have caused Kratzer to struggle in the water.

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Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com. He previously worked for the Deseret News. He is a Utah transplant by the way of Rochester, New York.
Ladd Egan


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