A 15-year-old girl operating a personal watercraft collided with another carrying her mother and father, killing both of them as the family was sightseeing July 6 near Peekaboo Arch on Lake Powell.
Russell Gallegos and his wife Wendy Gallegos, both 44, had slowed down “off plane,” apparently to take in the view, when the girl’s PWC struck theirs, according to the San Juan County (Utah) Sheriff’s Office.
“Off plane” is when a watercraft slows to the point where it is no longer riding on top of the water, instead settling down into it.
The girl, whose name is being withheld because she’s a juvenile, was taken to the hospital for treatment, then released, according to the police report
The accident occurred around 1 p.m. near the mouth of the San Juan River.
The family was from Fairview, New Mexico.
Utah State Parks and Recreation officials are investigating the accident with the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office and the NPS.
The two deaths are the second and third on Lake Powell this season.
Colby Roman, 26, of Scottsdale, drowned during Memorial Day weekend.
An average of six people die each year on the lake, estimates Denise Schultz of the National Park Service.
“Memorial Day, the Fourth and Labor Day are always busy times of the season,” she said. “The fact the holiday landed in the middle of the week helped to even out the surge of traffic the lake typically experiences around holidays.”
Shultz said that the most prevalent types of accidents are slips, trips and falls. With boats it is pinched fingers and trapped limbs from people trying to keep boats from colliding.”
She offered some pointers on how to stay safe while still having fun: “Limit your consumption of alcohol, and if you are consuming then don’t operate a boat or drive your car. Pay attention to what you are doing, there are many distraction s out there so remember to focus.”
“Make sure everyone knows where the life jackets are and when and how to use them. You have to wear a hat and sunscreen, drink lots of water.
“Enjoy yourself, just pay attention to everything that is around you.”
The jet ski deaths were the final and most tragic accident during the Independence Day holiday.
The night of July 4, shortly after the city’s fireworks display, a 23-foot deck boat loaded with 10 occupants struck a rock outcropping island, ejecting three people — including a pair of three-year-olds — out of the boat and onto the outcropping.
The young boy was flown to Flagstaff Medical Center where he was treated for non-life-threatening head injuries.
The Page Fire Department and the National Park Service took the girl and a 25-year-old woman to Page Hospital where they were treated for non-life-threatening head injuries and soft tissue damage consistent with blunt force trauma.
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