MIDVALE, Utah (ABC4 News) – Due to the amount of snowpack on the mountains this year, safety officials are warning people of increased dangers at various rivers and creeks.
“Just going near the rivers, we’re saying stay away from the edges, stay away from the rivers at this point. One slip and fall or anything like that, there’s a good chance you might not make it out alive,” Lt. Matt Jensen, Weber County Sheriff’s Office told ABC4 News.
The warning came after a man drowned in the Ogden River.
The information Jensen gave is something the Thayne family knows all too well.
Sean Thayne lost his life Memorial Day Weekend 2017.
“I’ve almost become numb to the idea of it. Some days it just takes me to dark places,” said Troy Thayne, Sean’s father.
Sean, his wife and both of their parents were at the Bridal Veil Falls area of the Provo River.
Sean saw a little girl fall into the rushing water. Her mother, along with Sean and five other people jumped in to try and save her.
Troy recalled that very moment.
“Panic and chaos. Many people running trying to find out where they were, who was in.”
Sean, London DeDios and her mother Brenda were pulled from the river unconscious. All three were pronounced dead shortly after.
“The water there that day was so loud and so scary. It just blows your mind. It was palpable in the air — the thickness of the sound of the river,” explained Troy. “Sometimes I imagine the three-mile trek they all went down just to get to safety.”
Although it’s tough to always talk about it, Troy speaks out with the goal of turning tragedy into a purpose. He raises awareness about swift water safety through his website SaferRivers.Org.
“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. One individual has so much impact on other people and you don’t realize it until the absence of that person. With my boy gone, my world has been shattered and I don’t want that to happen to another family.”
As people flock to Utah’s rivers, creeks, and lakes, Troy wants people to remember not to jump into the water to try and save someone who is drowning. Instead, throw a rope or a branch into the rushing water for a potential rescue.
It’s something his son didn’t know.
“Know that the river is powerful. More powerful than anybody. It doesn’t matter how good a swimmer you are. My son could out swim me tenfold but he didn’t have the knowledge not to jump. So did the other five people. The water is freezing cold it has so much weight behind it from gravity from coming downhill that you don’t have a chance.”
Troy is also working with city officials to install safety ropes and have lifeguards on hand at the Provo River.
“I don’t want this to happen to another family. It’s horrific.”