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Lake Disaster Survivors Sang, Prayed for Hours

Group was on 'one last run' on Bear Lake when boat capsized
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 4, 2015 7:57 AM CDT
Lake Disaster Survivors Sang, Prayed for Hours
Survivor Tiffany Stoker, center, gets a hug from friend and Relief Society President Lori Johnson in Harrisville, Utah, Tuesday, June 2, 2015.   (Ravell Call/The Deseret News via AP)

Two teenage girls who survived a boating accident in Utah's Bear Lake say they felt an unexplainable presence protecting them. "They felt as if someone lifted them out of the boat and placed them in the water a safe distance from the boat," the father of Tiffany Stoker, 14, tells the Salt Lake Tribune. He adds that during three hours in 53-degree water, the girls sang Mormon Primary songs, teased each other, and prayed. "They said the waves and wind were so loud they literally yelled their prayers so the other could hear their words." Tiffany, along with Tylinn Tilley, 14, and Kathryn Capener, 42, are the only survivors of the accident that claimed the lives of Lance Capener, 46; his daughters Kelsey, 13, and Kilee, 7; and their friend, Siera Hadley, 13. All are thought to have died of hypothermia.

The Deseret News reports nine girls and four mothers had gone to the lake that day, and Kathryn Capener explains part of the group went out for "one last run" before the storm hit. "Despite our best efforts to steer through the waves and get back to shore, the boat capsized," she says. Siera's uncle notes "everyone had life jackets on, but that didn’t help ... No one had wet suits; no one intended on getting into the water." As 10-foot high waves crashed over the teens, throwing the boat against their bodies, Tiffany and Tylinn eventually began swimming for shore, more than 3 miles away. "They truly supported each other. If one started to get down, the other would tease or encourage. If one got a cramp in a leg or arm, the other would try to massage it and help it," Tiffany's dad says. "They both were about to give up hope" when rescuers arrived. Tylinn's father says they had body temperatures of 68 degrees, per Fox 13. They were treated for hypothermia but released from a hospital hours later. (More Utah stories.)

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