Two Utah girls swam for hours after a fatal capsizing left four others dead in Bear Lake. Jeff Stoker, the father of one of the two girls, said that their persistent physical activity was what saved their lives.
A sudden storm on Monday afternoon proved fatal for most of the inhabitants of the ski boat when it capsized and dumped them all into the 53-degree water. Only three of them didn’t die of hypothermia because, as Stoker said, they kept swimming. Despite battling exhaustion, the swimming kept them warm enough to likewise battle what killed the others.
Tiffany Stoker and Tylinn Tilley survived the ordeal along with Kathy Capener. Sadly, Capener’s husband, two daughters, and their friend weren’t so lucky.
Utah doctor Lance Capener died in the water. His daughters, 13-year-old Kelsey Capener and seven-year-old Kilee Capener, and thirteen-year-old Siera Hadley, were taken to the hospital and died either on the way or the following morning.
The father of the Utah girls who swam for hours told Facebook what happened.
“They sang primary songs. They prayed. They said the waves and wind were so loud they literally yelled their prayers so the other could hear their words.”
Those same waves were what kept the girls from succeeding at swimming to shore, but they wouldn’t give up. As they battled exhaustion and the weather, they massaged each other’s arms and legs to fight off cramping. Three hours after the accident, they spotted a rescue boat and started shouting.
A Utah dad says his daughter & her friend swam for hours after deadly boating crash. #BearLake http://t.co/pfe5w8oBf0
— BYU-Idaho Radio (@byuidahoradio) June 4, 2015
Both were hospitalized with dangerously low body temperatures, said CBS News. Doctors claimed that the Utah girls who swam for hours wouldn’t have survived spending much longer in the cold water.
The group had been reported missing around 6 p.m. when Siera Hadley’s uncle, Brett, received the call while he was on vacation with the rest of the family. Another call came two hours later.
“I think she was the last one that they pulled out of the water. They told us at the time they were trying to resuscitate her. She passed away before we arrived at the hospital. We were able to go in and see her and tell her goodbye.”
Garden City fire Chief Mike Wahlberg said that rescuers had been searching for the group in some of the most extreme conditions he’d ever seen. The two Utah girls who swam for hours and the doctor’s wife were the only survivors.
[Image via Oli Scarff / Getty Images]