Man drowns trying to rescue relative at Deer Creek Sunday

An 18-year-old man is dead after drowning at Deer Creek State Park on Sunday.

An 18-year-old man is dead after drowning at Deer Creek State Park on Sunday. (Yukai Peng, Deseret News)

Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes

WALLSBURG, Wasatch County — An 18-year-old man is dead after drowning while trying to save a family member at Deer Creek State Park on Sunday, officials said.

John Ballan, of Zulia, Venezuela, was visiting the area with friends and family when the incident happened, Utah State Parks public information officer Devan Chavez said in a press release.

According to Chavez, the incident happened around 4:30 p.m., when the boat Ballan was on stopped and one of his family members jumped in the water for a swim without a life jacket on and began struggling. In an effort to assist his family member, Ballan jumped into the water without his life jacket on, and the water was said to have "waves and high winds," Chavez said.

"Witnesses to the incident arrived on personal watercraft to assist the struggling swimmers," Chavez said. "The original family member was successfully rescued and taken to shore. Unfortunately, Ballan was not able to be rescued."

That evening, Utah Division of State Parks Law Enforcement Rangers, Wasatch County Sheriff's deputies, Wasatch County Search and Rescue and others all returned to the area to search for Ballan, and his body was recovered at approximately 11:30 p.m that night, Chavez said.

"The Utah Division of State Parks extends our condolences to Ballan's friends and family impacted by this tragedy," Chavez said. "The incident remains under investigation. With the recreation season now underway, Utah State Parks would like to remind everyone that while Utah's outdoors are beautiful places to explore, safety needs to be a top priority. Always recreate with a buddy, wear your life jackets and helmets, and always let somebody know where you are going and when to expect your return. Checking weather conditions and water temperatures is also vital."

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Arianne Brown is a breaking news reporter for She also enjoys finding and sharing stories of everyday Utahns, a talent she developed over several years of freelance writing for various Utah news outlets.


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