18-year-old drowns saving family member struggling in Utah reservoir, officials say

Utah Division of State Parks
·1 min read

An 18-year-old rushed to help a family member struggling in a Utah reservoir, officials said. He drowned while saving them.

John Ballan, an 18-year-old from Zulia, Venezuela, was visiting Deer Creek State Park with family on Sunday, June 19, Utah State Parks officials said.

“At one point, when the boat had stopped, one of Ballan’s family members had entered the water for a swim,” officials said in a June 22 news release. “The family member began to struggle to keep their head above the water.”

Ballan jumped into the water to help the family member, but he also started to struggle in the water. Neither Ballan nor the family member were wearing life jackets.

“Witnesses to the incident arrived on personal watercraft to assist the struggling swimmers,” officials said. “The original family member was successfully rescued and taken to shore. Unfortunately, Ballan was not able to be rescued.”

High winds and large waves made it difficult for the swimmers to stay above the water, officials said. The water was 64 degrees.

Officials from several agencies rushed to search for Ballan. His body was found and recovered at about 11:30 p.m., officials said.

“With the recreation season now underway, Utah State Parks would like to remind everyone that while Utah’s outdoors are beautiful places to explore, safety needs to be a top priority,” officials said. “Always recreate with a buddy, wear your life jackets and helmets, and always let somebody know where you are going and when to expect your return.”

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