Survivors of Utah Boating Accident Share Story

Family members of two surviving teenage girls in a boating accident that took the lives of four people spoke to reporters recently detailing the horrific accident.

“They kind of felt like they were staring death in the face,” Lance Tilley told reporters. He and his wife Melanie described on camera how their daughters aged 14 and 13 treaded water for three hours and huddled together to stay warm.

The surviving mother who’s husband, two young daughters and their friend perished in the accident, also penned a written statement to reporters. Kathryn Capener, 45, described how the weather suddenly changed on Bear Lake and capsized the boat.

The group was among a collection of families who had been water skiing during the day on the popular boating lake in the northeast corner of the state.

The pair swam to shore for three hours with lightning all around them, up to 70 mph winds and 6-foot swells. Their parents told reporters they sang songs and prayed to one another to keep going. When they cramped up, the other massaged the muscle. When one was down, the other picked her up and miraculously they made it to shore.

Capener’s husband, Dr. Lance Capener, 45, of Pleasant View, their two daughters one of their friends, were reportedly alive when the boat capsized. In a statement, the surviving mother told a horrifying story of clinging to one another as the waves battered the capsized boat until they somehow got separated and two of the girls swam to shore.

“Everyone was having fun, and the water had been good,” Capener said in a written statement according to press reports. “Some of us went out on the boat for one last run. The wind storm and the waves picked up very suddenly, and despite our best efforts to steer through the waves and get back to shore, the boat capsized.”

 “We immediately checked on all of the girls and got everyone gathered together in the water,” she wrote. “The girls sang together and prayed to bring comfort and help. As time went on with the waves continuing to crash over everyone, we became separated from some of the girls.”

This story is yet another reminder just how important proper boater safety is and paying attention to the weather. Despite the tragic ending, this family did a lot of things right, such as everyone was wearing a life jacket. For 6 ways to be a safer boater, click here.