Teens survive tragic boating accident after hours of swimming

Jun 4, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. ET
Image: Fox 13

A planned water activity turned tragic when a boat capsized, leaving four dead. Two teenage friends were able to escape after swimming for hours.

There is great power in friendship, even in the midst of tragedy.

Tylinn Tilley and Tiffany Stoker are two 13-year-old girls who went on a ski boat trip with friends and their parents. ABC News reports the Bear Lake excursion happened as planned on a typical summer day until an unexpected storm arrived later that afternoon. Strong winds caused high waves that capsized the boat, sending Tilley, Stoker and five others into the water. Temperatures began to drop, making the water 53 degrees F.

"They definitely saved each other's lives," tells Jeff Stoker, Tiffany's father.

Choosing to swim to shore — close to a two-mile trek — Tiffany and Tylinn began their journey. KTVB 7 Idaho revealed the pair sang songs to each other and prayed as their swim lasted hours. They eventually heard a rescue team and flagged them for help. Though the girls were hospitalized with a low body temperature, some believe their determination to swim was what helped ward off hypothermia that unfortunately claimed the lives of four others who remained with the boat.

Lance Capener died at the lake, while his wife, Kathryn Capener, survived. Lance and Kathryn's daughters, Kelsey and Kilee Capener, along with their friend, Siera Hadley, were rescued from the water but unfortunately passed away.

Everyone wore life jackets.

Kathryn Capener released the following statement to FOX 13 Salt Lake City:

"On Monday, my husband, Lance, and I were boating with our 7-year old daughter, Kilee, our 13-year-old daughter, Kelsey, and group of Kelsey's friends. Everyone was having fun, and the water had been good. Some of us went out on the boat for one last run. The wind storm and the waves picked up very suddenly, and despite our best efforts to steer through the waves and get back to shore, the boat capsized.

"We immediately checked on all of the girls and got everyone gathered together in the water. The girls sang together and prayed to bring comfort and help. As time went on with the waves continuing to crash over everyone, we became separated from some of the girls.

"Several hours passed while Lance and I battled the waves together with our youngest child, Kilee. We were waiting for the rescuers that we knew our friends on the shore would have sent, and calling out for the other girls. The rescue workers gave valiant efforts, and even though it was hours before they found us, they did not give up.

"I am thankful to everyone who helped look for us. I am thankful to all of the people who worked so hard to try to save my husband and daughters. I know that everyone involved did everything possible to help us."

A community vigil is scheduled for Saturday, June 6, to honor those lost.

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