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Officials warn of cold temperatures in Utah lakes

Officials warn of cold temperatures in Utah lakes



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SALT LAKE CITY -- A tragic drowning in one of Utah's mountain lakes served as a warning for anyone planning to swim this summer -- even if the weather is hot, the water can be dangerously cold.

32-year-old Scott Pederson drowned in Upper Barker Lake on Boulder Mountain Sunday while trying to save his two sons. Officials say the water temperature was just over 50 degrees.

Even experienced swimmers like Pederson can make this mistake -- you feel the water to gauge the temperature and you think it's not so bad.

Becki Bronson, a spokeswoman for the Garfield County Sheriff's Office, said, "Once you get into the water, the temperature plummets rapidly below the surface."

Once hypothermia sets in, Bronson says it can prevent people from moving their limbs, keep them from breathing properly and render them unconscious.

"Hypothermia can set in rather quickly, surprisingly quickly," she said.

Another danger, Bronson says, is that people don't realize how easy it is to get tangled in lake vegetation. "This vegetation is a very hearty type of vegetation. It has to be to survive that kind of cold temperature," she said.

Bronson says anyone swimming in a mountain lake needs to wear a life vest, without fail. "There's just no way for anybody to know how dangerous that lake water can become," she said.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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Paul Nelson

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