FLAGSTAFF (AP) — A man from Russia has drowned in a reservoir along the Utah-Arizona border, authorities said Aug.29.
Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Kurganov, 20, of St. Petersburg was with a group of 29 foreign nationals who met up at Lake Powell and rented three pontoon boats. Some of them jumped into the water without life jackets and struggled to stay afloat as winds picked up to around 13 mph, said Mary Plumb, a spokeswoman for the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
The group was able to pull some of the exhausted swimmers out of the water while others swam to shore. Kurganov’s body was recovered from 9 feet of water, Plumb said.
Emergency responders arrived to find more people in distress than was reported to 911. Three others in the group nearly drowned, and two people who helped bring Kurganov’s body onboard sustained cuts to their legs when they ran up against the propeller. The two were taken to local hospitals.
One man who swam back to a boat threw life jackets to help the swimmers, Utah State Parks Lt. Regan Wilson said.
Kurganov’s body was taken to the medical examiner’s office in Coconino County. An autopsy could take up to 60 days, spokeswoman Trish Lees said.
Federal, state and county authorities are investigating.
“It doesn’t seem to be foul play, just a tragic accident,” Wilson said.
The drowning comes ahead of what’s expected to be one of the busiest weekends of the year at Lake Powell with thousands of people celebrating the Labor Day holiday.
Children age 12 and younger, as well as anyone on a personal watercraft or who is being towed by a boat, are required to wear life jackets. Boat operators must carry one for every passenger, but they don’t have to be worn.
“These people were not breaking any laws,” Plumb said.
The man-made reservoir is one of the largest in the country and has no lifeguards.
“We extend our sympathies to the family and friends of the deceased and want to encourage anyone who is coming for the holiday weekend to learn this important lesson: be safe when you’re outdoors recreating,” Plumb said.
Three others have drowned at the lake this year, including a Cedar City, Utah, man who dived in to retrieve a boat anchor and got entangled in the line, Plumb said. One person drowned last year.