Searchers less hopeful of finding missing boater alive

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UTAH LAKE -- Searchers spent another day Wednesday looking for a missing man whose boat capsized on Utah Lake Monday night.

The Utah County Sheriff's Office isn't sounding as optimistic as it has been about finding a missing boater alive on Utah Lake. Searchers say they're doing everything they can to find him, but the situation is getting grim.

The sheriff's office got some help from Utah State Parks searchers Wednesday. Using boats, WaveRunners and ground crews, they combed the area just west of the Sleepy Ridge Golf Course. Twenty people, including family members, are out on the lake trying to find 32-year-old Lon Thongthipvoravong.

The search commander says one of the boats has side vision sonar. It's able to pinpoint evidence and areas that look promising.

"The debris provides a lot of clues. They provide an area with high probability. In that area we're finding seat cushions, flip flops and a pack of cigarettes," said search commander John Valentine.

Family members are gathering at the Sleepy Ridge Golf Course. They say two of the survivors are still in the hospital.

Thongthipvoravong's sister-in-law, Jenny Tran, told KSL, "My whole family is really scared and worried about him. I know he's not giving up on us, and we're not giving up on him. We're not going to rest until we find him."

Thongthipvoravong and five friends went out fishing Monday afternoon. High waves caused their boat to capsize around 5:30 p.m.

One of the survivors who swam three miles to shore after the boat capsized is heard in newly-released 911 recordings:

"My boat sunk. I've got five friends out there. I can't find them. I barely got to shore," Joe Rajaszvong tells the 911 dispatcher. "And you swam back?" the dispatcher asks him.

"Yeah, it was a good three hours ago," Rajaszvong says.

Later, Rajaszvong tells the dispatcher, "I'm cramping up. My whole body is just cramping."

"Are you cold?" the dispatcher asks him.

"Yes," Rajaszvong replies.

Meanwhile, Thongthipvoravong's family members say they are staying optimistic, especially for the sake of his three children -- ages 9, 10 and 12.

"They're taking this very hard right now. They cry every night, crying for their daddy to come home," Tran said.

Family members and searchers are asking boaters on the lake will report anything that looks suspicious. You can do so by contacting the Utah County Sheriff's Office at 801-343-4100.


Story compiled with contributions from Nicole Gonzales and Randall Jeppesen.

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