Friend remembers drowning victim as respected member of Utah’s ‘LARPing’ community

Mar 27, 2018, 9:50 PM | Updated: 11:54 pm

KEARNS — A man who police said died while practicing holding his breath in a rec center pool was being remembered Tuesday as a well-known and respected member of Utah’s ‘LARPing’ community.

Gabriel Crowther, 39, had been learning to snorkel and apparently had a goal of being able to hold his breath under water for as long as 4 or 5 minutes at a time, long-time friend Lance Butler said.

“Apparently he got into trouble and it was too late by the time they could pull him out,” Butler said.

Unified Police on Saturday said lifeguards had been keeping an eye on Crowther and attempted to rescue him, but first responders were unable to revive him once he was out of the Kearns Oquirrh Park Fitness Center pool.

RELATED: Man drowns while practicing holding his breath, police say

“I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it—to him not being here,” said Butler, who had grown close to Crowther through the live action role-playing community.

“We have fighting tournaments, we have arts and science, crafting tournaments—which include making stuff as well as singing and dancing and performance—and he did all of it,” Butler said. “He excelled at fighting to the point where he became our region’s top fighter. He was the first person who was ‘knighted’ in our region as a ‘knight of the sword’ for combat, which is extremely impressive.”

Crowther came to be well-known in the community as ‘Aagard.’

“I became his mentor, he became my mentor and we became as close as brothers,” Butler said.

Butler said Crowther was supposed to come to his house later Saturday morning to use the industrial laser he had stored in Butler’s shop, a space Butler uses to make 3D-printed LARP weapons and movie props.

“Instead of him walking through the door, I got a text that he had passed,” Butler said.

Butler said he was going to miss his Crowther’s friendship, determination to be the best at whatever he did, and his singing.

“I’m glad that it’s there,” a soft-eyed Butler smiled as he gazed at one of Crowther’s YouTube videos. “I wish I had some of my favorites from him.”

Crowther leaves behind a wife and four children.

“I don’t know how I’m going to go to an event and not having him at the campfire leading it and singing and just being as exhuberant and as excellent as he always was,” Butler said.

Relatives set up a GoFundMe account to help Crowther’s wife with funeral and living expenses.

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Friend remembers drowning victim as respected member of Utah’s ‘LARPing’ community