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John Daley ReportingBe careful near fast-flowing waters because things can go wrong in an instant. That's the warning from a Utah mother who lost a child to a roaring Wasatch mountain stream.
All too often search and rescue crews must dive into roaring rivers looking for a missing person. For the family of the victim that search is excruciating and years later the pain is still fresh. One winter Sylvia Fenton's four young sons played in deep mountain snows. Little did she consider when the snow melted one of those boys would be swept away in the roaring runoff.
Sylvia Fenton, Drowning Victim's Mother: “In a split second it happens and your life changes forever.”
July 8th 1993 Sylvia's husband Blair, a doctor, takes the couple's oldest sons Michael and Jonathan to Timpanogos Cave. They stop at the river bank on flat, dry ground. Michael loses his balance and falls in.
Sylvia Fenton, Drowning Victim's Mother: "Turned around, saw him in the river. He was trying to swim. He was struggling trying to swim. He actually reached out his hand and said 'dad'."
Blair Fenton dives into the raging waters and fights to stay afloat for two miles until he pulls himself out.
Sylvia Fenton, Drowning Victim's Mother: “As soon as he fell in the river he knew he was in trouble.”
Hundreds of volunteers searched, but Michael's body wasn’t found for 10 days.
Sylvia Fenton, Drowning Victim's Mother: “It changes your life forever.”
That day Blair Fenton, who would die four years later in a car accident, reads a statement.
Blair Fenton, Michael's Father, July 1993: "In the days since his drowning, we have seen many people playing near the river oblivious to the dangers. We hope that some good might come from Michael's death in that others will exercise extreme caution, that other drownings would be avoided."
Michael Fenton would have been a senior in high school this year. Sylvia hopes other parents will remember Blair's warning.
Sylvia Fenton: "There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of Michael. Not a day goes by."
In all, 13 people drowned in Utah's rivers, creeks and canals in 1993 -- a year with a huge snowpack which came roaring off the mountains, much like we're expecting this year.