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Low Water at Utah Lake Forces Rescue Boats Out

Low Water at Utah Lake Forces Rescue Boats Out

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Sammy Linebaugh Reporting Boat at your own risk, that's the message of state park officials at Utah Lake who say sinking water levels have forced them to dry dock all rescue boats. It’s a change in park operations some have discovered the hard way.

In a single moment this morning Michael Kelly's water-ski outing hit a snag, literally.

Michael Kelly, Stranded Boater: "Came to an immediate stop, jolted forward, shut down my engine immediately, just knew that I was in trouble. I knew I'd gotten high-centered on sand."

When the boat wouldn't budge they called Park Officials for help only to find the low water has forced the lake's rangers to trade their rescue boats for wave runners. And in Kelly's case, the smaller watercrafts simply didn't have the needed horsepower to break the boat free.

Ty Hunter, Utah Lake State Park: "We began pushing, got about three inches at a time on each shove."

Michael Kelly: "They came out for two and a half hours and lifted my boat for two and a half hours, and we got it busted loose."

As water levels drop park officials worry the need for rescues will rise. Even in the lake's main marina, it's less than six feet at its deepest point."

Ty Hunter, Utah Lake State Park: "We've actually had a few incidents where people have backed their trailers off the end of the ramp."

Acting Park Manager Ty Hunter says so far this year, there have been 45 documented rescues on the lake, many of those caused by a secondary problem whipped up by the lake's retreating shoreline.

Ty Hunter, Utah Lake State Park: "Microburst winds come up real fast; this is a real shallow lake; waves become really tall, very close together and it gets you into trouble real fast."

Just last night park rangers used the small water craft to rescue a Provo couple whose sailboat capsized during a sudden storm. Thirty mile per hour winds made the rescue especially difficult and Hunter says recreators at Utah Lake should be aware that rangers, now, can only do so much in an emergency.

Michael Kelly has his own advice.

Michael Kelly: "Pray for rain. Pray for rain in Utah, people, we need it bad."

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