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GARFIELD COUNTY -- A man drowned in Upper Barker Lake on Boulder Mountain Saturday while trying to save his two sons.
Becki Bronson, a spokeswoman for the Garfield County Sheriff's Office, says 32-year-old Scott Pederson of St. George was teaching his 5-year-old and 7-year-old sons to swim around 11 a.m.
When he saw his boys struggling to stay above the surface because of the cold water, he jumped in to help.
"Pederson kept the boys' heads above water, realized he too was in trouble and yelled to his father-in-law and brother-in-law, who were on the shore, to come and help," Bronson said.
Bronson says Pederson's father-in-law and brother-in-law were able to get the boys out of the water into a paddle boat, but when they turned to get Pederson, he was gone.
"This father gave his life, truly, for his two sons to save theirs. It's the worst tragedy imaginable, and at the same time it's the greatest act of heroism," Bronson said.
The Washington County search and rescue dive team found Pederson's body about seven hours later. His body was taken to Richfield for an autopsy.
Officials say Pederson likely got caught in a tangle of weeds. The 50 degree water temperature may also have played a part in the drowning.