Family in capsized boat says divine intervention saved them during Bear Lake storm

A boat carrying 14 people capsized on Bear Lake Thursday, July 22, 2021, due to stormy conditions. (Menlove family)

FISH HAVEN, Idaho — A boat carrying 14 people, including 11 children, capsized on Bear Lake Thursday night due to stormy conditions. The family spent a harrowing time waiting in rough water, but they were eventually rescued by park rangers.

They are experienced boaters, but park rangers said waves reached up to 6 feet that day.

On Friday, the family told KSL-TV they are still shaken, but grateful for what they describe as divine intervention that helped bring them to shore.

When you've been in rough water, you know and appreciate the calm. For the Menlove family, nothing will compare to the rough water they experienced Thursday night.

"And very quickly, the lake got very wild," said Marisha Menlove.

Conditions started out just right.

Marisha Menlove had her 3-year-old twins in her brother-in-law's new 2021 Malibu boat, with two other adults and seven other children. They surfed and wakeboarded, but Menlove said she is most thankful they brought the tube with them.

"The wind started to come up, and we thought, 'Ah, we better get back to the beach,'" she recalled.

Around 6 p.m., they started heading back to shore for dinner, but they didn't get very far. Waves crashed and the engine shut off.

It was just like we had this bubble around us keeping us safe.

–Marisha Menlove

That's when Menlove grabbed her twins and went for the tube.

"To have a storm like that, where the waves are crashing into this huge boat — hitting the driver, knocking people over in the boat — and then to be on this little tube with 10 kids inside and four people holding on, how does the tube not capsize? How does it not deflate?" she said.

Menlove expected the boat to drag the tube down with it because they couldn't get the rope untied, but it came loose on its own.

"We're just in a water park, rolling with the waves. It was just peaceful," said Menlove. "Curtis wasn't scared. I wasn't scared. The kids didn't seem scared. It was just like we had this bubble around us keeping us safe."

After about 15 minutes in the water, park rangers saved them.

Looking back, Menlove believes someone else was also looking out for them.

"He said, 'I don't know how that happened,' but I do. We all know how that happened and we're grateful. Our family saw a miracle," she said.

Everyone was wearing life vests, and park rangers stressed how important that was.

"We've definitely seen people get stuck out there, and unfortunately, people have lost their lives on this lake," said Aaron Nelson, the park ranger who came to rescue the family. "I want to make sure that people aren't only having fun, but that they make it home at the end of the day."

Matt Rascon
Madison Swenson


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