Rescuer recounts Bear Lake boating tragedy that killed 4


BEAR LAKE STATE PARK (ABC4 News) – A sudden change in the weather caused a “girls day out” boat trip to suddenly turn tragic Monday evening on Bear Lake.

45 year old Dr. Lance Capener, a family practitioner from Pleasant View took his wife Kathy, their two daughters and three friends out on a ski boat for the last run of what had been a sunny day with calm water.

They were on the way back to the marina when a violent storm kicked up with 76 miles per hour winds and 6 to 8 foot waves that capsized their ski boat and sent all 7 into the frigid water.

“The water is cool,” Bear Lake State Park Manager Richard Droesbeke told ABC4 Utah News. “We’re northern Utah, water temperature is about 53 degrees. Cold shock and hypothermia set in and it doesn’t take that long….Everybody on the boat did have on life jackets which is a key thing to help improve the chances of survival. Unfortunately here it looks like the cold was the bigger factor.”

By the time rescuers found them they had been in the lake for about 3 hours. Dr. Capener, his 13 year old daughter Kelsey, 7 year old daughter Kiley and 14 year old friend Sierra Hadley all eventually died. Kathy was hospitalized at Logan Regional Medical Center while two 14 year old friends were treated for hypotermia and released.

Veteran boater John Deems says their boat was just too small, too light and not equipped with a wether ship to shore radio.

“It’s just a matter of experience I believe,” Deems said. “I don’t think they should have been out there with the weather report what it was. It was coming in. The storms were coming in. We don’t go out in that kind of weather and none of these people who are out here on this dock with these big boats do either. They come in.”

Droesbeke was part of the rescue effort and told ABC4 about the emotional toll this has taken.

“Dealing with anything in that situation is tough,” Droesbeke said. “But emotionally when you involve younger kids, it tugs harder on the heartstrings, feeling for ’em.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Droesbeke had the somber task of meeting with family members and explaining to them exctly what happened to their loved ones.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Utah VP Debate

More Utah Debate