HURRICANE, Utah (ABC4) – Fourteen-year-old Alex Wong of California took a paddle board out on Sand Hollow Reservoir Tuesday morning while his parents were distracted, and he forgot something important.
“Our son had gone further than expected, before you know it we couldn’t see him, he had no life jacket on,” says Natalie Wong, Alex’s mother.
Sand Hollow State Park rangers found Alex on an island in the reservoir without a life vest about a mile and a half from his parents on the shoreline.
“Definitely after the fact, I was definitely worried about what could have happened, and I should have worn a life jacket out there and yeah, you should always wear a life jacket,” says Alex.
“Most of our issues here at Sand Hollow State Park involve people who are swimming, not your typical boat, someone falling out of a boat. Most of them are people swimming, playing on the shoreline, and they fail to stay on top,” says Jonathan Hunt, the Sand Hollow State Park manager.
Cheyenne Lanfre, a boating captain for the beach at Sand Hollow, stresses the use of life jackets for any activity on the water.
“Make sure that they are U.S. Coast Guard approved, they are properly zipped up and buckled, so if you ever fall into the water, you don’t have to worry about any drowning scenarios,” says Lanfre.
Hunt says situations like the Wong’s don’t always end on a positive note.
“Using and wearing life jackets is the difference between a call of ‘hey my boy is clumsy and he fell into the water’ to ‘my boy fell into the water and we can’t see him. That’s a totally different call for a park ranger, for any responder, for anyone that’s gone under the water,” says Hunt.
The Wong’s say they learned an important lesson: to not only wear a life vest, but always pay attention to your surroundings.
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