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Search and rescue teams locate bodies of West Valley City brothers missing on Utah Lake

Search and rescue members finish operations after finding two missing jet skiers at The Knolls on Utah Lake on Sunday, May 16, 2021. Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Utah County search and rescue officials say they found the bodies of two men who were reported missing in the overnight hours on Sunday.

The bodies were found Sunday morning about 1.5 miles southeast of Knolls. An investigation is underway.

The Utah County Sheriff’s Office says the men were reported missing by a woman who said her husband, age 33, and his brother, ag3 21, had gone to the lake to ride a wave runner on Saturday afternoon.  

According to a statement, the woman found her husband’s truck near the shore of Utah Lake at the Knolls (on the west side of the lake) south of Saratoga Springs. The woman told police the men were not with the truck, but many of their personal belongings had been left behind.

With the help of a Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter crew, a search for the men was initiated. 

Search for jet skiers resumed Sunday morning

The search resumed on Sunday morning, beginning at Lincoln Beach and moving across Utah Lake to the Knolls. The Utah County Sheriff’s Office said their investigators spoke to people who’d been camping in the area who said one of the men had come back to shore at 7 p.m. Saturday night. 

But he returned to the water, according to witnesses, and both men went back out onto the lake.

A search and rescue team member reported finding the waverunner that belonged to the men around 9 a.m. on Sunday. Then the bodies of the men were found a mile southeast of where they’d entered the water from the shore.

The Utah County Sheriff said there were no obvious signs of injury to the men. Their bodies were taken to the Medical Examiner’s office where an autopsy will be performed.

Both of the men were wearing life jackets the same color as those described by the witness who saw them go out on the lake together on Saturday night.

What to watch for while on the water

This incident is in the same area where two girls went missing and drowned last summer.

Sergeant Spencer Cannon, with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, says unfortunately, they respond to tragedies at this lake every year.

“Seems like just about every year we have at least one or two people who drown on Utah Lake,” he explains.

The main culprit is typically strong wind gusts that create devastating waves. A big reason for that is how shallow the actual lake itself is.

“It does have some physical features about it that make it unique and in many situations dangerous,” he explains. “On Utah Lake, you finish the one wave and you may be coming down right into the face of the next oncoming wave. It makes it very, very difficult to navigate.”

The potentially hazardous conditions make it all the more important to carefully monitor weather conditions.

“Check the weather forecast to see what it’s going to be,” he explains. “If you haven’t checked the weather forecast, look at the skies.”

He says cloudy skies and gusty winds should be an automatic sign to return to shore immediately. 

Other Reading:

The families of two girls who drowned on Utah Lake start a donation drive for lifejackets

Bodies of missing girls found in Utah Lake

The search for two missing teenagers goes on near Utah Lake