Utah State Parks Blog

Married Couple Dead After Incident at Deer Creek State Park, Teen Rescued in Close-Call at Jordanelle State Park

June 20, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — A married Arizona couple has passed away following an incident at Deer Creek State Park on Sunday. 

On June 20, just before noon, Utah State Parks rangers responded to an area of the reservoir off the main state park entrance. A man, 72-year-old David D. McMillan from Arizona, had been swimming with family off a pontoon boat. While swimming, David and an adult family member began to struggle to keep their heads above the water. Seeing this, David’s wife, 59-year-old Catherine McMillan, jumped in the water to assist and then also began to struggle. None of the three were wearing life jackets. 

During the incident, a passerby with EMS training assisted responding park rangers in retrieving the three individuals from the water and administering first aid and CPR. Both David and Catherine were facedown in the water when help arrived. 

The group was transported to the state park boat ramp, where first responders from Utah State Parks — along with Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office and Search and Rescue — continued working to revive them. 

Both David and Catherine McMillan were transported to nearby hospitals, but were both pronounced dead shortly after. The family member is expected to fully recover from her injuries. 

This incident remains under investigation at this time.

Officials also responded to an additional call for help Sunday afternoon at Jordanelle State Park involving three individuals all utilizing a single floatation pool toy. While swimming with the group, a 14-year-old girl began to struggle in the water and continued going under. She was not wearing a life jacket. 

Beach-goers who witnessed the incident swam out to assist in bringing her to shore. Those assisting immediately began CPR and the girl was revived without further incident and was later cleared at a nearby hospital. 

The Utah Division of Parks and Recreation would like to express our condolences to the friends and family impacted by the passing of both David and Catherine McMillan. 

We would also like to remind those who are venturing into the outdoors to always stay on guard and to make safety a top priority. Always remember to wear your life jacket and ensure children are wearing their life jackets. 

More information about Utah’s life jacket laws, highlights of Utah’s boating laws and rules, and additional safety and education information, can be found online at stateparks.utah.gov. 

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