Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for July 22, 2009
Heroic father drowns while saving his sons
32-year-old Scott Pederson of St. George drowned on July 19, while saving his five and seven year old sons from the same fate. Pederson and his family were at the Upper Barker Lake on Boulder Mountain in Garfield County at 11 a.m. Sunday morning. Pederson was in a four-man peddle boat while his five and seven year old sons were swimming in the middle of the lake.
The two boys started having trouble staying above the water due to the temperature of the lake. The water temperature below the surface was 54 degrees.
Pederson, who recently joined the St. George/Washington County Search and Rescue Dive Team, immediately jumped in and kept the boys'' heads above water and tried to push them into the boat. Pederson realized he too was in trouble and yelled to the shore for help from his father-in-law, J.H. Frost, and brother-in-law, who swam out to the peddle boat.
The father-in-law was able to pull the boys back into the peddle boat with help from the brother-in-law, but as soon as they had done so and turned around, Pederson had slipped below the surface.
The lake is about five feet of murky water, and then another two to three feet of tangley weeds at the bottom. Repeated efforts by his family to find him were unsuccessful, again due to the extremely cold temperatures of the lake water and the tangled, mossy weeds at the bottom.
The Garfield County Search and Rescue Team kept the location of where Pederson went down while divers were called to the scene. In a sad twist of irony, it was the St. George /Washington County Search and Rescue Dive Team, of which he became a recent member, that recovered his body at about 6 p.m. Sunday.
Garfield County Deputy Kevin Moore says the lake water is deceiving, "The mountain lake water may not seem as cold on the surface, but the more you get into the water, the temperatures plummet rapidly. Tragically in this case the water temperature, along with the undergrowth vegetation, caused the drowning of a very strong and skilled swimmer. We strongly urge anyone that plans to swim in any mountain lake that they always wear a life preserver. There''s no way to know on the surface just how cold, murky, and dangerous the water can get."
Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins commends Pederson for his heroic act, "It is an absolute miracle that noone else drowned, and it was due to the heroic efforts of Mr. Pederson. We express our deep condolences to his family, and also want to recognize the additional heroic efforts of the Garfield County Search and Rescue, and Mr. Pederson''s friends with the St. George/Washington County Search and Rescue Dive Team."
The body is currently in Richfield undergoing an autopsy. There was no foul play involved.