Former Army Veteran Drowns Attempting to Save Wife in Utah Lake

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
June 13, 2020USshare
Former Army Veteran Drowns Attempting to Save Wife in Utah Lake
Former Army veteran Justin Shannon, 46, from West Jordan, Utah, in a file photo. (GoFundMe)

An army veteran and husband from Utah drowned after he jumped into a lake to save his wife during a boating trip with friends, according to local authorities.

Justin Shannon, 46, from West Jordan was with his wife, Melissa Shannon, and six other people at Lake Powell when Melissa jumped into the water without wearing a life jacket, according to a news release from the National Park Service (NPS).

Authorities received a call at around 6:30 p.m. on June 7 about a possible drowning. NPS Rangers and an ambulance were dispatched to the scene.

Weather conditions were harsh and Melissa began to struggle in the waters. Justin then also jumped into the water in an attempt to save his wife, also without wearing a life jacket. Strong winds and aggressive water also made him struggle.

“Windy conditions caused the boat to drift away from the swimmers and mechanical problems delayed restarting the vessel,” NPS said in the release. “A Type IV throwable device was tossed toward the victim but he was unable to grab the device.”

NTD Photo
Lone rock at Lake Powell near Big Water, Utah, on March 29, 2015. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

People on the boat eventually managed to restore power to vessel and steered toward the victims. One of the six people on board the boat managed to save Melissa after jumping into the water and providing her with a life jacket.

That same person then went for Justin, who was underwater at the time. He managed to take him back on board the vessel and perform CPR as he was taken a mile south to the stateline launch ramp.

Once the boat arrived back onshore, two off-duty volunteer firefighters continued to provide CPR to Justin. NPS officials continued life-saving efforts, including CPR and defibrillator, but without success.

NTD Photo
A boat navigates the waters of Lake Powell in Utah on March 28, 2015. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Justin did not respond to medical interventions and continuous CPR and was pronounced dead at 8 p.m., the news release stated.

“All boaters are reminded to be aware of changing weather conditions, to immediately seek safe haven in high winds or storms, and to always wear life jackets when boating and recreating on or around water,” NPS said.

The swimming accident is currently under investigation by the NPS, Kane County Sheriff’s Office, and the Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office.

‘Love for Family’

According to a GoFundMe page that was set up for Justin by his wife, he served as a veteran in the U.S. Army for three years, followed by a stint as an arborist for 10 years.

“Justin loved the ocean, playing loud music, and working out at the gym and doing body building shows,” Melissa wrote on the page describing her husband. “He loved dancing and singing… And being around friends and family.”

“He was heroic and saved the life of his wife before his passing, he was strong and protected everyone around him,” she added.

Justin’s daughter wrote that, “He loved nothing more than seeing his family together.”

“His laugh was something that could carry through any ground. He was always the life of the party. The most welcoming human to walk this earth. He had a heart of a teddy bear but would burn the world down if you asked him. Would drop anything in an instant for his kids, and his grandbabies were his world. He was a hard-working man no matter what issues it caused for him. He had the best hugs, the best laugh, the most handsome smile,” she stated.

Justin is survived by his wife, three children, one stepdaughter, two grandchildren, parents, and three brothers.

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