Lake Mead National Recreation Area park rangers rescued 17 people after a boat sank last week.
At 1:55 a.m. June 24, the Lake Mead Interagency Communication Center received a 911 call. The dispatcher could only hear faint screams for help. It was later learned that the caller was treading water while holding his cell phone in his mouth. GPS coordinates placed the party in the area of Lover’s Cove just west of Callville Bay on Lake Mead.
Rangers responded on two vessels. When they arrived, they only saw a distant light in the water.
Upon inspection of the light, rangers found a partially submerged vessel with only the bow visible above the waterline. There were nine people, including two children in the water. Multiple victims were not wearing life jackets, including an infant. All were reaching a point of exhaustion after swimming in the water for over an hour.
Rangers pulled the people from the water and aboard a National Park Service vessel. Rangers provided medical care to a 1-year-old child and a pregnant woman.
A second National Park Service vessel recovered an additional eight people from shore who were associated with the party recovered from the water. Stark said this group was stranded after their boat became swamped and inoperable.
All 17 people were transported to Callville Bay Marina. A Community Ambulance transported two juveniles and one adult to a local hospital as a precaution for water inhalation.
The incident is under investigation. Initial reports indicate the cause of the boat accidents is believed to be a combination of the vessels being overloaded and hazardous weather.
According to the National Weather Service, the park’s automated weather stations in the area at the time of the incident indicated wind speeds up to 30 miles per hour with gusts as high as 38 miles per hour.